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Integrating Cultural Humility into the Medical Education Curriculum: Strategies for Educators.

  • Solchanyk, Daniel1
  • Ekeh, Odera1
  • Saffran, Lise2
  • Burnett-Zeigler, Inger E3
  • Doobay-Persaud, Ashti1, 4
  • 1 Center for Global Health Education, Institute for Global Health, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  • 2 Department of Public Health, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA.
  • 3 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  • 4 Division of Hospital Medicine, Departments of Medicine and Medical Education, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Published Article
Teaching and Learning in Medicine
Informa UK (Taylor & Francis)
Publication Date
Feb 11, 2021
DOI: 10.1080/10401334.2021.1877711
PMID: 33573412


The framework of cultural humility, which emphasizes curiosity and self-reflection over mastery, was identified over 20 years ago as a way to address implicit bias in health care, an important factor in health disparities. Despite growing interest from researchers and educators, as well as the urgent call to adopt these values, the foundational elements of cultural humility remain challenging to teach in medical education and have not yet been widely adopted. Health disparities persist throughout the United States among a growing population of diverse patients. The cultural humility framework undermines power imbalances by encouraging the clinician to view their patient as an expert of their own experience. This approach strengthens relationships within the community, illuminates racial and historical injustices, and contributes to equitable care. However, recent reviews have shown that humility-based principles have yet to be widely integrated into cultural curricula. Based on available evidence, this article introduces the foundational concepts of cultural humility with the aim of helping medical educators better understand and implement the principles of cultural humility into undergraduate medical education. Cultural humility is a powerful and feasible adjunct to help student physicians cultivate effective tools to provide the best patient care possible to an increasingly diverse patient population. However, there is little known about how best to implement the principles of cultural humility into existing undergraduate medical education curricula. The analyses and strategies presented provide educators with the background, instructional and curricular methods to enable learners to cultivate cultural humility. Future systematic research will need to focus on investigating design, implementation and impact.

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