Cultural Competency and Identity: Exploring the Role and Impact of Cultural Competency Education on Personal and Professional Identity Among Undergraduate Nursing and Medical Students

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There has been an effort by both healthcare and educational institutions over the last several decades to train students and professionals in cultural competency. Previous research assessing these interventions have found that many programs do result in a moderate or significant increase in measures of cultural competency. These studies tend to evaluate outcomes through assessing factors such as cultural knowledge, attitude, and skills, with very few additions to the literature that expand or refocus assessment to understand the meaning and impact of this education on learners. This research aimed to explore the role and impact of cultural competencies on personal identity, professional identity, and future practice. Using qualitative description as the driving methodology, nine senior undergraduate medical and nursing students participated in semi-structured interviews. The interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings demonstrated that personal identity and lived experiences are motivating factors for students to engage in cultural competency. The impact of utilizing multiple learning contexts in developing cultural competencies was also a significant finding. From these findings emerged three key themes: the impact of lived experience, the role of stories and storytelling in cultural competency education, and how personal agency drives engagement in cultural competency. Educators and faculty leaders should strive to include learner and community voices in course development, standardize relevant clinical experience and prioritize cultural competency education within the curriculum.
Medical Education, Nursing Education, Cultural Competency, Personal Identity, Practice Intentions