Caring for a Culturally Diverse Patient Population

Proponents of considering race and ethnicity as factors in medical school admissions often cite the importance of a diverse physician workforce in light of an increasingly diverse patient population. They argue, for example, that minority physicians are more likely to work in underserved minority communities, and minority patients are more comfortable and satisfied with minority physicians. The concept of patient-physician concordance that underlies this particular argument for more minority physicians is fundamentally impractical and ethically questionable. From an ethical perspective, it is too convenient for medical educators and physicians to say that one cannot learn to care for a patient that looks different from and speaks a different language than the caregiver. Physicians have to develop and cultivate skills and abilities that allow them to competently and compassionately care for whomever may walk into our offices. Physicians must understand the importance and value of creating therapeutic symmetry with our patients especially when they are discordant racially, ethnically, religiously, and perhaps socially.

Volume 5, Number 6: 197-233 Full Issue PDF