Engaging pharmacy students with diverse patient populations to improve cultural competence

Am J Pharm Educ. 2008 Oct 15;72(5):124. doi: 10.5688/aj7205124.


Objective: To develop and implement learning activities within an advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) to improve students' cultural competence.

Design: During their AAPE at Community Access Pharmacy, students participated in topic discussions with faculty members, used interpreters to interview Hispanic patients, visited a Mexican grocery store, evaluated nontraditional medicine practices in the Hispanic community, and served as part of a patient care team at a homeless shelter and an HIV/AIDS clinic. The students reflected on these activities in daily logs and completed a final evaluation of their experiences.

Assessment: Forty-three students completed the rotation from 2004-2007. Almost all learned something new about counseling patients with cultural/language differences (98%) and became more aware of financial barriers to health care and potential solutions to overcome them (93%). Students' reflections were positive and showed progression toward cultural competence.

Conclusion: A culturally diverse patient population provided opportunities for APPE students to develop the skills necessary to become culturally competent pharmacists. Future work should focus on potential evaluation tools to assess curricular cultural competency outcomes in APPE's.

Keywords: cultural competency; diversity; experiential education.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Community Pharmacy Services
  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Pharmacy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Students, Pharmacy*