Honing Cultural Sensitivity

Each year, approximately 75 Einstein students head overseas with the aid of the Global Health Fellowship program to assist in healthcare programs, to improve their medical Spanish, or to take part in research projects. And all Einstein medical students encounter culturally diverse individuals while seeing patients at the College of Medicine's affiliated hospitals in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

On a recent Monday evening, Einstein's Global Health Club hosted a Cultural Competency Dinner, offering medical students an opportunity to learn how to be more informed about diverse cultural and social customs when working with groups locally and abroad. The dinner consisted of roundtable discussions with three Einstein faculty members—Drs. David Lounsbury, Carol Harris and Matthew Anderson—whose own work involves working with community groups in the Bronx and in developing nations of the world.

Each sat at a separate table while the several dozen students in attendance dined with them and then rotated to each of their tables. Dr. Lounsbury, who is assistant professor of epidemiology & population health and of family and social medicine, discussed various projects of his, ranging from community-based breast cancer screening, HPV vaccine dissemination, evaluation of HIV care services for women of color and developing wellness programs in urban school systems. Dr. Harris, who is professor of clinical medicine and director of the Einstein Institute of Global HIV Medicine, shared stories from her efforts providing HIV/AIDS prevention and healthcare in Ethiopia. And, Dr. Anderson, who is associate professor of family and social medicine and co-editor of the online journal Social Medicine, offered perspectives from his work with La Clínica Familiar Luis Ángel Garcia, an AIDS specialty clinic located in Guatemala City.  

"To be effective caregivers, we need to learn how to listen to and observe the patients we work with, so that we can better understand their needs," said Joanne Anthonypillai, co-director of the Global Health Club.

"And it's also important for us to understand how to conduct ourselves so that we're respectful of our hosts abroad and can assist them appropriately," added fellow co-director Melissa Bhikham. "The insights shared by Drs. Lounsbury, Harris and Anderson gave us a real clear sense of how we can be culturally sensitive no matter where we are and who our patient is."

The Global Health Club Board (from left): Patrick Tivnan, Melissa Bhikham, Eugene Palatulan, Joanne Anthonypillai, Cory Fulcher and Mohammad Khan
The Global Health Club Board (from left): Patrick Tivnan, Melissa Bhikham, Eugene Palatulan, Joanne Anthonypillai, Cory Fulcher and Mohammad Khan
(From left): Drs. David Lounsbury, Carol Harris and Matthew Anderson led the roundtable discussions
(From left): Drs. David Lounsbury, Carol Harris and Matthew Anderson led the roundtable discussions
Students listen as Dr. David Lounsbury details some of his international research partnerships and other projects
Students listen as Dr. David Lounsbury details some of his international research partnerships and other projects
 

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