Background: We evaluated the effect of an elective (the Global Multiculturalism Track), including international and domestic immersion experiences, on the cultural competence of preclinical medical students.
Methods: A self-assessment instrument was used to measure cultural competence, and it was administered to Track participants and nonparticipating class cohorts at the beginning and the end of the preclinical years.
Results: Track participants (n=26) had a higher level of cultural competence both at the beginning and at the end of the program. At the end of their second year, students participating in the Track had, for the first time, greater knowledge of certain aspects of local cultures, more tolerance of people of other cultures not speaking English, and more comfort with patients of these cultures, compared with non-Track participants.
Conclusions: The results are based on a small sample size, but the suggestion that a multiculturalism track could provide a model for development of cultural competence warrants further research.