Implementation and evaluation of cultural competency training for pharmacy students

Mitra Assemi, Chris Cullander, Karen Suchanek Hudmon
Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2004, 38 (5): 781-6

BACKGROUND: The demographic composition of the US population is rapidly changing. As a result, pharmacists increasingly face the need to interact effectively with and provide care for patients whose ethnic or cultural background may differ from their own. While schools implement curricula to provide pharmacy students with cultural awareness, knowledge, and communication skills they will need in practice, few assessment tools exist to evaluate the impact or effectiveness of such training.

OBJECTIVE: To implement and assess the impact of a cultural competency training course designed specifically for pharmacy students.

METHODS: An 8-hour elective course offering basic cultural competency training was provided to 60 first-through fourth-year pharmacy students in 2003. A 12-item survey assessing students' perceived awareness, knowledge, and communication skills in the areas of cultural competence and cross-cultural communication skills was administered immediately prior to and upon completion of the course. Surveys were linked, enabling estimation of within-student change as a result of exposure to the program.

RESULTS: Fifty-six paired surveys (96.6% of participants) were analyzable. Responses to all survey items (p < 0.05) and total scores (t55 = 16.27; p < 0.001) increased significantly from pre- to posttraining. The mean +/- SD 12-item pretraining scale score was 33.35 +/- 5.48 (range 21-44), and the mean posttraining scale score was 47.88 +/- 4.90 (range 36-59).

CONCLUSIONS: Survey results suggest that the course successfully raised student awareness of diversity and provided basic knowledge and skills pertaining to cultural competence and cross-cultural communication.

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