Wrestling with ethnic diversity: toward empowering health educators

Med Educ. 2001 Mar;35(3):262-71. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2001.00880.x.

Abstract

The importance of training health professionals for work in an ethnically diverse society is increasingly recognized. However, health educators may lack confidence or experience in delivering such teaching, contributing to a self-perpetuating inertia.

Objectives: To identify current experience and challenges perceived by educators of different health professionals, and to facilitate and debate the development of teaching in this field.

Methods: Educators (n=61) from 42 different organizations, participated in facilitated workshops in three different UK settings. They included clinician teachers of medical undergraduates and postgraduates, and educators of nurses, primary care and hospital physicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and paramedical staff. Opportunities were provided for educators to discuss experiences; to participate as "learners" in examples of interactive training exercises; to anticipate challenges they might encounter in developing and providing training themselves; and to discuss ways of negotiating them. Qualitative data generated from the workshops were analysed for common themes.

Results: Participants had received little relevant training themselves. For many, the workshops provided a first formal opportunity to consider their own responses to ethnic diversity in health care. Current provision of such training in their institutions was limited. Educators lacked specific training to facilitate the learning of others in this field. They wrestled with a wide range of issues: from critical dilemmas about the philosophy of teaching, through to the practicalities and personal challenges of face to face teaching. Strategies to address these were generated that may merit consideration.

Conclusion: Educators will need help to overcome their uncertainty in approaching this topic and be empowered to develop training. Developing teachers' own awareness and skills, followed by appropriate support, are likely to be prerequisites for successful training.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Diversity
  • Curriculum
  • Education
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • England
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Professional Competence
  • Teaching / methods*