Learning to value ethnic diversity - What, why and how?

Joe Kai, John Spencer, Michael S Wilkes, Paramjit Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Introduction: Learning to value ethnic diversity is the appreciation of how variations in culture and background may affect health care. It involves acknowledging and responding to an individual's culture in its broadest sense. This requires learning the skills to negotiate effective communication, a heightened awareness of one's own attitudes, and sensitivity, to issues of stereotyping, prejudice and racism. This paper aims to contribute to debate about some of the key issues that learning to value ethnic diversity creates. Context: Although some medical training is beginning to prepare doctors to work in an ethnically diverse society, there is a long way to go. Promoting 'valuing ethnic diversity' in curricula raises challenges and the need to manage change, but there are increasing opportunities within the changing context of medical education. Appropriate training can inform attitudes and yield refinement of learners' core skills that are generic and transferable to most health encounters. Curriculum development: Care must be taken to avoid a narrow focus upon cultural differences alone. Learning should also promote examination of learners' own attitudes and their appreciation of structural influences upon health and health care, such as racism and socioeconomic disadvantage. Appropriate training and support for teachers are required and learning must be explicitly linked to assessment and professional accreditation. Conclusion: Greater debate about theoretical approaches, and much further experience of developing, implementing and evaluating effective training in this area are needed. Medical educators may need to overcome discomfort in developing such approaches and learn from experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-623
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Education
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture
  • Curriculum
  • Ethnic groups
  • Undergraduate; medical education, methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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