Steven Duncan (5 Posts)
Medical Student Editor and Contributing Writer
UT Southwestern Medical School
Steven is a third-year medical student at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas (Class of 2022). In 2018, he graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and Russian. He enjoys eating curry, writing poetry, and hiking in his free time. In the future, he would like to pursue a career in primary care and global health.
Developing skills of cultural competence requires an open heart and mind — and often an uncomfortable examination of personal biases. It takes time, but along the way physicians gain greater humility and compassion, which translates to expanded access and higher-quality care for patients.
Growing up in an Asian American immigrant household, I frequently encountered and grappled with my parents’ reserved manner of expressing themselves. Instead of using words to communicate their sadness or anger, my parents would barricade themselves in their room and refuse to say a word.
Though they make up 5.6 percent of the US population, discussions about Asian-American health appear to be few and far between. According to the Asian-American Health Initiative, a variety of medical and public health scourges disproportionately affect the Asian-American community. Some of these disparities entail disease incidence, while others describe a paucity of certain preventive health measures being delivered to this group.
The cultural competency framework that has become the mainstay of medical education is often times employed in incredibly reductionist ways. It seems to propose that exposing physicians to homogenized, static and packaged ideas of culture will aid them in estimating patient behavior, preference or response in the clinic, thereby diminishing health care inequality. Training like this paves the way for even well-intentioned student-doctors to be explicitly ignorant under the auspices of clinical benefit. It spoils the good intent to create better patient outcomes by legitimizing the validity of stereotypes and the development of physician bias.
He stood at the window, gazing out into the bleak, foggy morning. His fingers slowly traced words and symbols on the frost and then quickly wiped them away. His hands looked different he noted—the skin like tissue paper, thin and crisscrossed with fine lines. His veins raised and pulsing. He clenched his fist, wincing at the stiffness. He couldn’t remember when his hands changed. When they were last full and firm, strong enough to pick …
I would like to begin this article with a question: Do the name and ethnicity of a doctor affect your decision when choosing a physician? America has always been a melting pot with diverse cultures and ethnicity. The medical field is a melting pot in its own right with its own politics, conflicts, racial disparities and the like. When I was starting medical school, my mother suggested that I should change my Chinese first name …
“Últimamente me he sentido muy cansado,” starts explaining Genaro. He has been feeling tired, but also weak, and unable to concentrate on things. Since he arrived in Providence a couple of years ago from the highlands of Guatemala, he has been doing hard work — manual labor like construction and carpeting, working long hours for little pay. “Se me olvidan las cosas,” he continues. He has been forgetful, and has had trouble holding on to …