Cultural Sensitivity Scholars Program

An Online Learning Community and Course

Fall 2014 – Spring 2015

Program Overview

AMSA recognizes that health disparities are amongst one of the most important problems that needs to be addressed in the modern health care system. There is an inherent power dynamic in the patient-physician relationship which has to be address and changed in order to diminish health disparities. Social cultural issues such as stereotyping, racism, and dominant-group privilege are all present within the medical community as they are in larger society. One way to change this power dynamic is to train physicians to become more culturally competent.

We recognize that not only must physicians become culturally competent but they must also develop a sense of cultural humility. Cultural humility requires on-going self-awareness and self-criticism. We consider this combination of cultural competency and cultural humility to be cultural sensitivity. Through the Cultural Sensitivity Scholars Program, we expect scholars to develop the knowledge and skills to be both culturally competent and humble.

Tentative Curriculum

Our curriculum will address the following topics: An Introduction to Cultural Competency, Mistrust of Medical Professionals, Cross-Cultural Beliefs on End of Life Issues, Cross-Cultural Religious Beliefs and Health, Medical Interpreters, Health Literacy, and Bridging the Cross-Cultural Barrier: Case Studies.

Each month of the program will address one of these topics through the following components: assigned readings, a didactic session with an expert on the topic, a 3-hour session with a community preceptor, and a small group discussion, where we will discuss the readings, didactic session, and clinical experiences regarding the topic.

Each scholar or pair of scholars will create on a final project, which will need to be practical and applicable to the clinical setting or could be used by AMSA chapters. Final projects will be presented at the AMSA National Convention and posted on the AMSA website.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the program, students should be able to:


  1. Scholars will have an understanding of what it means to be culturally competent and sensitive.
  2. Scholars will know the basic difference between the traditional Western medical view of medicine and health and beliefs held by other diverse communities and populations.
  3. Scholars will be able to define health literacy and understand the reasons for using medical interpreters.
  4. Scholars will acquire the knowledge of various models developed to assist the cross-cultural patient-physician interaction and relationship.


  1. Scholars will know how to apply various models of cross-cultural communication in the clinical setting.
  2. Scholars will be able to identify cross-cultural issues in the clinical setting.
  3. Scholars will be able to effectively use medical interpreters in the clinical setting.
  4. Scholars will be able to integrate all learned skills when interacting with a patient towards the purpose of creating an effective patient-physician relationship.

Tentative Schedule

The Cultural Sensitivity Skills Program will run from October to April. We will not meet in December. Each month will have a corresponding topic. We anticipate that each month will have the following schedule: 1st week will be dedicated to assigned readings, largely journal articles; 2nd week will feature a didactic session with an expert on the topic; 3rd week will be dedicated to a 3 hour physician preceptor session, which should be used to practice the skills already discussed in weeks 1 and 2; the 4th week will end the topic with a small group discussion, which will discuss the major points of the month as well as the readings, didactic session, and preceptor skills session.

Participant Expectations

In order for a participant to effective learn and incorporate the skills presented in this program, it is crucial that each participant is present for all aspects of the program.

The expectation is that each participant will attend all the one-hour didactic sessions, schedule and participate in a three-hour clinical skills practice session with a preceptor at least once a month, complete all of the mandatory assigned readings, and participate in an hour long small group session. In total, we expect that each month will require about 6 hours a month. In addition, we will require that each participant will plan and complete a final group project, which we expect will require 3-4 hours of work. Participants are encouraged to attend the AMSA National Conference but this is not a required expectation.