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Open Access Turning cross-cultural medical education on its head: Learning about ourselves and developing respectful curiosity

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Cross-cultural education is often understood to mean acquiring cultural knowledge about different cultural groups in order to serve people from diverse groups equitably. However, this article argues that to work effectively in cross-cultural situations, we need to learn about our own culture and develop an approach of respectful curiosity. The first goal of cross-cultural education is to understand how culture influences our thoughts, perceptions, biases, and values at an unconscious level. The second goal is to understand the nature of individual cultural identity as a multidimensional and dynamic construct through exploration of our own cultural identity. This exploration helps us understand the limitations of learning about ‘others’ through learning categorical information and helps us limit the effect of our implicit biases on our interactions. The approach of respectful curiosity is recommended to question our assumptions, understand each unique individual patient, connect with each patient, and build the therapeutic relationship.

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Keywords: Cultural competency; cross-cultural; curiosity; diversity; medical education; patient-centred care; reflection; respect; self-awareness; undergraduate

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-04-01

More about this publication?
  • Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) is an open-access journal focusing on subjects that are common and relevant to family medicine/general practice and community health. The journal publishes relevant content across disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, social and preventive medicine, research and evidence based medicine, community health service, patient education and health promotion and health ethics. The journal has a specific focus on the management of chronic illness particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure, hypertension, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and common mental illness. FMCH is published by Compuscript http://www.compuscript.com on behalf of the Chinese General Practice Press http://www.chinagp.net.

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