Improving Cultural Competency: A Patient-Centered Approach to Interprofessional Education and Practice in a Veterans Healthcare Facility

Margaret Brommelsiek, Jane A. Peterson, Sarah Knopf Amelung


Background/Objective: Competency in health professions education when separated from culture is a ‘detached mastery’ of a discreet skill; there are no values considered, no human behind the understanding. This can result in an uneven understanding, proficiency, and commitment concerning individuals’ cultural differences. To increase cultural competency and improve care delivery to veterans, health professional students, participated in an interprofessional education immersion with clinical practicum at a Veteran’s Administration primary care clinic.

Methods: Fifty-four graduate students from nursing, clinical psychology, pharmacy and social work participated in an interprofessional education course on military culture. Students’ knowledge and attitudes concerning veterans were evaluated at the start and end of the 8-week immersion course.

Results: In both the Knowledge Assessment, a 10-item survey covering the core aspects of the course content, and Health Professionals’ Attitudes Toward Veterans Scale, student knowledge and attitudes improved relating to veterans care.

Conclusions: Veterans seeking care in veterans’ and civilian facilities require a culturally competent health professional workforce. Interprofessional education coursework specifically focused on veterans and military culture has shown promise in increasing knowledge and compassion in health professional students working with veteran patients. 

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International Journal of Higher Education
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