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TODAY news for Thursday, January 26, 2006

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MLK symposium encourages students, faculty to become culturally competent

Dr. Campinha-Bacote
Dr. Campinha-Bacote kept her audience alert with questions and anecdotes.
Culturally competent health care practitioners know the rules of polite behavior among different races and cultures. But they can’t stop there.

A group of more than 150 students, faculty, and administration learned this while attending the fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. symposium on January 11.  According to the speaker, culturally competent health care includes awareness of values, beliefs, and conventions—but it also addresses life-or-death medical issues such as how symptoms can differ between races and ethnic pharmacology.

Josepha Campinha-Bacote, PhD, APRN, CNS, presented the keynote speech on “A Vision for Culturally Competent Health Care: Addressing Disparities in Health Care.”

Using principles, anecdotes, and examples, Dr. Campinha-Bacote opened up the sometimes-confusing topic to the audience. How does a practitioner look for signs of jaundice in Asian patients, for example, who already have somewhat of a yellow cast to their skin?

There are levels of cultural competency, the speaker said:

1. Unconsciously incompetent—when you are completely unaware of the issue.

2. Consciously incompetent—when you realize that you don’t know what you need to know.

3. Consciously competent—when you make the effort to be competent.

4. Unconsciously competent —when competency is natural to you.

The goal, Dr. Campinha-Bacote said, is to reach the fourth level of cultural competency.

According to Dr. Campinha-Bacote, the buzzword currently being used to describe cultural competency in health care is CLAS—culturally and linguistically appropriate services in health care. More information on the topic is available at <www.omhrc.gov>.

So many people attended the lecture that more chairs had to be brought in and people were still standing in the back.

“Dr. Campinha-Bacote’s presentation was nothing short of spectacular. She educated us, inspired us, and challenged us to keep working toward excellence in diversity competency. I have been bombarded with requests from students, staff, and faculty to bring her back, only next time, to a wider audience,” says Leslie Pollard, DMin, MBA, vice president for diversity, Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Campinha-Bacote is founder and president of Transcultural C.A.R.E. Associates in Cincinnati, Ohio. The firm provides transcultural health care and mental health consultation.

Dr. Campinha-Bacote also consults several national institutes and centers, including the National Center for Cultural Competence in Washington, D.C., and the United States Health Resources and Services Administration.

Following the Martin Luther King Jr. symposium, Dr. Campinha-Bacote also offered a workshop on the same topic for  about 80 Medical Center nurse leaders and educators.

“Again, she was incredible.  She gets an ‘A+’ from our diversity team,” says Dr. Pollard.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Health Care Symposium was sponsored by the office of diversity, the School of Medicine, human resource management, and staff development.

By Heather Reifsnyder

TODAY news for Thursday, January 26, 2006