Reducing barriers to interprofessional training: promoting interprofessional cultural competence

J Interprof Care. 2008 Aug;22(4):417-28. doi: 10.1080/13561820802190442.


The need to train health professionals who can work across disciplines is essential for effective, competent, and culturally sensitive health care delivery. By its very nature, the provision of health service requires communication and coordination between practitioners. However, preparation for interdisciplinary practice within the health care setting is rare. The authors argue that the primary reason students are not trained across disciplines is related to the diverse cultural structures that guide and moderate health education environments. It is further argued that this profession specific "cultural frame" must be addressed if there is any hope of having interprofessional education accepted as a valued and fully integrated dimension of our curriculum. Each health discipline possess its own professional culture that shapes the educational experience; determines curriculum content, core values, customs, dress, salience of symbols, the meaning, attribution, and etiology of symptoms; as well as defines what constitutes health, wellness and treatment success. Most importantly, professional culture defines the means for distributing power; determines how training should proceed within the clinical setting; and the level and nature of inter-profession communication, resolution of conflicts and management of relationships between team members and constituents. It might be said that one factor limiting interdisciplinary training is profession-centrism. If we are to achieve effective and fully integrated interdisciplinary education, we must decrease profession-centrism by crafting curriculum that promotes interprofessional cultural competence. The article explores how to promote interprofessional cultural competence within the health education setting.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Competency*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Professional / methods*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Professional Competence
  • Social Identification