Developing a Co-Curricular Activity to Introduce Student Pharmacists to the Cultural Proficiency Continuum Framework

  • Edgar S. Diaz-Cruz Belmont University College of Pharmacy
  • Angela M. Hagan Belmont University College of Pharmacy
Keywords: cultural proficiency continuum; cultural competency; co-curricular; social determinants of health; self-awareness


Background: As the United States becomes more culturally diverse, health professionals must be able to demonstrate competency in caring for a multitude of diverse patients. The cultural proficiency continuum has proven to be an effective framework to assess where individuals and institutions are on the continuum of cultural sensitivity and competence in educational settings.

Innovation: A co-curricular activity was developed as an exercise in self-awareness to allow first year pharmacy students the opportunity to explore potential biases by evaluating comfort in both social and patient care settings. The 90-minute activity employed a lecture, followed by both small and large group discussions and a debriefing session.

Findings: Student survey responses showed their appreciation of this framework and its application to patient-centered care. Student self-rated knowledge increased by 3 points on a 10-point scale after completion of the activity. Students agreed that their level of cultural awareness would lead them to respond appropriately in cross-cultural situations, and that the provision of care is dependent on approaches that are culturally proficient.

Conclusion: This activity dismantles the misconception of cultural competence as an attainable finite skill, but instead presents it as an ongoing process of self-awareness. The co-curricular activity offers an easy to implement model of education that could potentially fit the needs of pharmacy programs searching for ideas to teach cultural competency and social determinants of health, while circumventing the need to affect curricular structure.


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Received 2019-08-09
Accepted 2019-11-18
Published 2020-01-24