Medical students' perspectives on a multicultural curriculum

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the National Medical Association








Cultural competence; Education


Objective: The Liaison Committee on Medical Education requires medical schools to deliver curriculum that prepares graduates to care for a culturally diverse patient population. This study explores student perceptions of 1 multicultural curriculum and their preparedness for dealing with: racism, stereotypes, community partnership and disparities. Methods: Focus groups were conducted with 22 preclinical and clinical students. Participants were asked semistructured and open-ended questions. Using a conceptual approach to thematic content analysis of transcripts, the data were reviewed by the study's authors for common themes. Results: The authors identified the following: 1) Students asserted that topics of multiculturalism, disparities and racism should be incorporated both throughout the curriculum and in discrete packages; these topics would be most effective if highlighted during their clinical training. 2) Students preferred learning about topics such as racism and bias from "real" patients. 3) At times, written cases may be counterproductive by reinforcing stereotypes. 4) Finally, students note that without recurrent assessment, many students do not perceive topics on multicultural issues as vital to their education. Conclusions: Given these recurring themes, we have reviewed our assessment strategies for the multicultural curriculum and are implementing d longitudinal assessment of our multicultural curriculum. Our findings should inform our school and others as to the need for further faculty development and clerkship materials in the area of cultural competency.