Enhancing the cultural competency of students is emerging as a key issue in medical education; however, students may perceive that they are more able to function within cross-cultural situations than their teachers, reducing the effectiveness of cultural competency educational efforts.
The purpose of our study was to compare medical students’ perceptions of their residents, attendings, and their own cultural competency.
A questionnaire containing previously validated instruments was administered to end-of-third-year medical students at four institutions throughout the US. Repeated measures multivariate analysis was used to determine differences in student ratings.
Three hundred fifty-eight medical students from four schools participated, for an overall response rate of 65%.
Analysis indicated overall statistically significant differences in students’ ratings (p<0.001, η2=0.33). Students rated their own cultural competency as statistically significantly higher than their residents, but similar to their attendings. For reference, students rated the patient care competency of themselves, their residents, and their attendings; they rated their attendings’ skills as statistically significantly higher than residents, and residents as statistically significantly higher than themselves. There were differences between cultural competency and patient care ratings.
Our results indicate that students perceive the cultural competency of their attendings and residents to be the same or lower than themselves. These findings indicate that this is an important area for future research and curricular reform, considering the vital role that attendings and residents play in the education of medical students.
KEY WORDS: cultural competency, medical education, medical education-undergraduate