Cultural Competency

Both the TELACU Nurse Scholarship Program and the Bank of America Workplace Training Program are uniquely important, for both the community at large and for the patients we serve. The programs are very beneficial to the community as a local source of job training, career planning and employment opportunities. These are resources that directly benefit the community by providing greater career opportunities for local people, enabling them to become more financially stable and better able to contribute to the local economic fabric.

Perhaps, even more important are the contributions they are able to make to the "social" fabric -on Adventist Health White Memorial's (AHWM) behalf. Because AHWM trains nursing students from the local community, because we hire locally, (one-third of our employees live in our service area,) and because our volunteers and Career Pathway Interns are from our local neighborhoods, they share a common background, and experience, beyond sharing a language.

These elements all contribute to the medical center's "cultural competency," a measure of our ability to minimize the impact of differences in language, culture and background between patient and caregiver. The medical center has been nationally recognized for it achievements in cultural competency; our Family Practice Residency Program offers a course in it.

Perhaps, the greatest measure of the impact of cultural competency can be found among our patient satisfaction scores. Among those patients who were in units where our "local" nurses worked, or where our neighborhood volunteers and interns worked patient satisfaction scores are decidedly better than for those patients in other units.

Better patient satisfaction scores enhance the medical center's reputation in the community as a "good" place to go when you're sick and that we welcome all people without respect to race, creed or documentation status.


California Endowment funds AHWM Cultural Competence Training for Physicians

The Cultural Competence Initiative (CCI) for Physician Training Programs focuses on codifying and expanding the successful curriculum of the Adventist Health White Memorial Family Practice residency Program, which was established in 1988 to serve the needs of the East Los Angeles community, a federally designated medically underserved area. The AHWM Family Practice Residency Program was designed to integrate cultural competence education into the fabric of residency training, thus bringing the principles of CCI into the mainstream of medicine.

Among the goals of the program is to establish standards in the training of resident physicians to deliver clinically competent, compassionate care that respects the patients' set of values, beliefs, practices and communication needs in optimizing personal health. This is of critical importance for the provision of care to the population served by Adventist Health White Memorial; upwards of 90 percent of AHWM's patients come from a Hispanic ethnic background, including Mexico, Central and South America.

Additionally, the initiative seeks to establish a "train the trainer" faculty development curriculum which will complement the larger CCI curriculum, and to establish program evaluation and dissemination strategies. The program also hopes to provide training and technical assistance to other primary care residency programs.

The project team and the family practice faculty have implemented a number of training strategies to achieve program goal. These include the following examples:

  • First year residents complete and present a personal genogram (diagrammatic family history showing relationships, health risks and protective factors) to learn the significance of their own family history.
  • Residents and faculty complete cultural self-assessments and knowledge assessments to discover their own strengths and identify areas where they might need further development.
  • Several workshops include experiential exercises that help both faculty and residents examine issues of personal stereotypes and biases.

The broader outcome of this curriculum includes a successful "pipeline" recruitment strategy that attracts resident physicians who are academically qualified, socially committed, and whose ethnic and gender diversity reflect the community being served. Over 70% of AHWM's family practice residency graduates practice in medically underserved areas; 100% practice in culturally diverse areas. The residency program's success in recruiting from the local populations and returning graduates to those population to provide care has been repeatedly cited by the State Department of health and Human Services.