Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Cultural Competency Course for Pharmacy Students

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Cultural Competency Course for Pharmacy Students

Article excerpt


Hepler and Strand's pharmaceutical care model maintains that one of the goals of drug therapy is an improved quality of life. (1) Pharmacists must understand their patients', as well as their own, cultural background in order to accomplish these goals. (2) By the year 2050, minorities will comprise approximately 50% of the US population. (2) Since pharmacy students are living in a multicultural and increasingly diverse world, they must be able to interact and provide patient-centered care in this culturally diverse setting.

The need for including cultural competency training in the pharmacy curriculum has previously been established. (3) Guideline 9.1 of the 2007 ACPE accreditation standards states that schools and colleges ''must ensure that the curriculum addresses cultural competency, health literacy, health care disparities, and competencies needed to work as a member of or on an inter-professional team." (4) A survey assessing cultural competency content in the curricula found that many schools recognize the need to add curricular content but have not implemented it. (5) There have also been reports that have highlighted the effects of elective coursework to enhance cultural competency. (6-9)

The need for cultural competency also is consistent with the goals of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) School of Pharmacy. Specifically, the School of Pharmacy aims to inculcate a spirit of respect for diversity. In addition to encouraging faculty members to include these topics across the curriculum, 3 required credits are allocated in the third professional (P3) year to address these curricular needs. The course is titled Health Promotion and Literacy.

The specific objectives of the course were to: (1) develop overall cultural competency; (2) enhance self-awareness of biases; (3) address cultural knowledge such as differences in health beliefs among various socio-cultural groups, health disparities, and health literacy issues; and (4) develop skills including health promotion strategies for providing culturally responsive care. This article describes and evaluates the course developing cultural competency in pharmacy students.


A team-based learning approach as described by Larry Michaelson was the primary instructional strategy used for course delivery. (10) The essential concept of team-based learning is the development of groups that evolve into cohesive teams by focusing on assignments best developed as teams. In team-based learning, there is minimal use of didactic lectures. Instead, the focus is on students completing preassigned readings and then applying principles to team activities. During the first offering of the course in fall 2007, the class consisted of 81 students organized into 16 teams (15 with 5 members and 1 with 6 members). The teams were organized using a heterogeneous grouping technique. The technique is a random way of assigning students to a group when critical cultural information about students is lacking. It helps to create teams with as much diversity as possible since it is based on a random assignment. (10) Teams were assigned to work on specific in-class assignments and exercises throughout the semester, complete Readiness Assessment Tests (RATs) and a summative team project. Team members also were required to provide peer evaluations of each team member's contributions to team assignments. To minimize conflict among individuals, members' peer evaluation scores were the average of points they received from the members of their teams. Points were received for in-class exercises and assignments and for the final project. Students used a rubric for awarding points based on students' preparation for class, contributions to team work, respect for others' ideas, and flexibility when disagreements occurred.

The required textbook was Campinha-Bacote's The Process of Cultural Competence in the Delivery of Healthcare Services. …

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