The cultural and mental health skills that medical and health science students need in today’s world

From memorizing disease facts to learning how to perform procedures, each medical and health university offers curricula and opportunities to ensure that its students hone their solid skills.

But as our world passes the pandemic and the patient population grows in diversity, these skills need only be part of the education of a medical specialist.

“A complete and competent physician is not only qualified in the solid sciences of anatomy, chemistry and biology, but it is equally important that he has the desire and knowledge of cultural competence and cultural humility to heal the patient’s body and mind. and spirit, ”he says Jeffrey R. GardereDoctor of Science, Certified Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor and Course Director at Turo College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) in New York and Middletown, New York.

Simply put, he says, education in a modern medical school is incomplete if it does not include training in these other skills. Read on to find out why and find out how Touro University includes them on its various campuses.

Why is it more important than ever for healthcare students to be culturally competent?

“Without having the cultural context from which health and disease are created, maintained or even treated, health care students will develop a ‘one size fits all’ approach to understanding and treating their patients. This will lead to a lack of relationship between the doctor and the patient, less patient satisfaction, and less effective medical treatment, “said Dr. Gardere.

To this end, TouroCOM has made it mandatory for their masters of science and first-year medical students to take didactic and experiential courses in cultural competence and cultural sensitivity. “Interprofessional exercises are also held annually at TouroCOM Harlem, so that the various medical professions – including pharmacy, dentistry, nurses and medicine – work as a team to treat underrepresented minority patients in a culturally competent way,” he explains. “This interprofessional team, which will soon include Touro’s new Doctor of Psychology program and Touro Doctor’s Assistant Program, consists of different races and cultures that learn from each other as professional students and as a community.”

How about mental health? Why do all health care students need to know how to deal with mental health situations?

According to the World Health Organization, there is no health without mental health, says Dr. Gardere. “One depends on the other.”

That’s why undergraduate and first year undergraduate students at Touro, in their cultural competence courses, learn about the social determinants of health – as well as the importance of advocating for lifestyle changes in their patients through psychology and public health – to mitigate or even prevent disease and / or transmit disease. In addition, second-year medical students must take a course in behavioral medicine at TouroCom, where they study health psychology and psychiatry.

Why students should give priority to their own own mental health in their future careers?

“Because of COVID, we are experiencing a health and mental health crisis in our world and in the United States,” said Dr. Gardere. “Students of medicine and other health sciences are at the forefront of the fight against the virus, the disease and other social iterations of the disease. There are not enough doctors to take care of the huge number of patients in need. Therefore, burnout is a major problem in the health profession. “To stay in the fight and be effective and empathetic,” he says, “it’s important for our clinicians to stay strong in body and mind.”

“In the cultural competence courses we discuss self-care as a tenant of the sustainability of medical services. We also teach students to be role models in mental health care, to break the stigma that prevents their patients from discussing or receiving help with their mental health challenges. ”

For more information on Touro University and its training in cultural competences, visit touro.edu.

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