Cultural Competence & Medical Education: The teaching of associations that negatively impact patients

By: Misha Armstrong

MD/MPH Candidate, Class of 2019

Tsai et al. (2016) reported on the use of race as a biological risk factor in lectures used to teach medical students during their preclinical courses. The authors highlight this problematic teaching and the resulting associations students make with disease, health disparities, and certain communities. This creates negative race associations that are carried into clinical years. Furthermore, disparities will persist if we continue to approach them as innate and accepted, rather than as continuing inequities that we as future physicians should be empowered to change.
This issue goes much further than the lecture material taught in classrooms. The board exams that medical students are required to take also rely heavily on stereotypical logic. I will use myself as an example, a question stem may read “22-year-old African American female medical student who just took…..


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