New Online Cultural Competence Training Program Offers Patient-Based Learning

Because hospitals across the nation are facing the challenge of serving patients and communities that have become increasingly multicultural, having doctors and nurses who are culturally and linguistically competent is essential to providing high-quality care. To help health care organizations train their front-line clinical staff to respond more effectively to people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, Critical Measures, LLC, and the Manhattan Cross Cultural Group have created a new interactive e-learning program, Quality Interactions: A Patient-Based Approach to Cross-Cultural Care©.

Developed by three physicians who are nationally recognized experts in the field of cross-cultural health care and education, Quality Interactions uses a hands-on, scenario-based approach to building health professionals’ understanding of the social and cultural issues that are most relevant in caring for diverse patient populations. Topics covered include: understanding different cultures’ customs and beliefs about illness, medicine, spirituality, diet, gender issues and traditional healing practices; working with interpreters; racial and ethnic health disparities; and the impact of cultural issues on medical decision-making.

The training program’s centerpiece is a series of case studies in which students must conduct a medical history and exam with patients from three different ethnic/cultural backgrounds. The interactive program lets students “talk” to the patient (by clicking on one of three multiple-choice options) and immediately see how the patient responds to their questions. The patient’s facial expression changes and the student receives a text cue–e.g., “She looks confused.” The program then gives the student detailed feedback about why each of the three options is or is not culturally appropriate.

Quality Interactions also includes a pre- and post-test, demographic information and research statistics on minority populations, summaries of key concepts, FAQs, helpful tips, personalized feedback and review, and many references to cultural competence articles, Web sites and other resources. Much of the on-screen information can be printed out for ongoing reference after students complete the initial training.

One of Quality Interactions’ most important lessons is that, contrary to popular belief, providing culturally competent care doesn’t have to take a lot of extra time–once you learn to ask the right questions. The training itself takes about two hours to complete and provides 2.4 contact hours of CEU credit for nurses. The flexible e-learning format lets students take the course at their own pace, at their computers rather than in a classroom.

If your health care facility would like more information about the Quality Interactions cultural competency staff training program, contact Shirley Engelmeier at (763) 544-0070,