The rationale for this CHUM core stems from the IOM finding that cross cultural communication offers a tool to improve health care professionals' ability to provide quality care for diverse populations and thereby reduce health disparities. Although the inclusion of cultural competence in medical school curricula is an accreditation requirement, at Columbia, as with most other medical schools, the current curricula is limited and classroom-based. This core will build on a highly successful Dyson initiative which provides cultural competency to pediatric housestaff. Using the expertise gained from this initiative, we propose to introduce a similar model of cultural competency training to the medical school. Through the use service learning methodology and with partnerships of the Planning Council created by the CHUM community core we propose a curriculum whose goals will be to broaden medical student education by increasing understanding of the role of cultural competence in health care delivery and outcomes and to improve the delivery of health care to diverse populations by introducing new communication techniques and other skills into the medical school curriculum. This core will take the students beyond the didactic classroom and focus on four cornerstones of cultural competency training: (1) introduction to cultural competency and community asset mapping, (2) communication skills, language skill development and interpreter use, (3) exploring provider and patient culture and (4) disparities in health outcomes. The curriculum will begin in the first two years of medical school but will subsequently be expanded to all four years of medical school training. Cognizant of the need for additional cross-cultural training and following student initiatives to address this need, the curriculum committee of the medical school is highly supportive of establishing such an enhanced curriculum. The core will be implemented by two of the Dyson faculty who have expertise in cultural competency training and community based education.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMD1)
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Columbia University (N.Y.)
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