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Research Shows Cultural Competency Training Needed

Major research reports agree that the need has grown over the past 25 years to educate students in cultural matters.

  1. The 2002 IOM Report on Unequal Treatment indicated that even when equal access to health care is not the issue, poor health outcomes in racial and ethnic groups persist.
  2. The 2000 Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General indicates that there are oral health disparities based on race and ethnicity, and that vulnerable populations do not share the significant improvements of oral health that the non-minority population enjoys.

Accreditation statements also recommend boosting students’ cultural competence. The current Dental School Accreditation Standard states that “graduates must be competent in managing a diverse patient population and have interpersonal and communication skills to function successfully in a multicultural work environment.”

The Liaison Committee for Medical Education (accrediting authority for US and Canadian medical schools) developed two particularly relevant statements promoting education of culturally competent practitioners.

  1. The first states “the faculty and students must demonstrate an understanding of the manner in which people of diverse cultures and belief systems perceive health and illness and respond to various symptoms, diseases and treatments.”
  2. The second states that “medical students must learn to recognize and appropriately address gender and cultural biases in themselves and others and in the process of health care delivery.”

The Dental Pipeline schools, through their coursework revisions, are complying with both the dental and medical school standards.


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