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Cultural and Linguistic Competence:
Rationale, Conceptual Frameworks, and Values

1. Purpose

This section of the module is to provide faculty with a basic foundation in the philosophy, values, and conceptual frameworks of cultural and linguistic competence.

2. Rationale for cultural and linguistic competence in health care

The NCCC identified several compelling reasons why health care systems should focus on cultural and linguistic competence, adapted as follows from its Policy Brief series for this curricula enhancement module series:

  • To understand and respond effectively to diverse belief systems related to health and well-being
  • To respond to current and projected demographic changes in the United States
  • To eliminate long-standing disparities in the health and mental health status of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups
  • To improve the quality and accessibility of health care services

For Additional Information

See the Policy Brief series on NCCC’s Web site


Creating and sustaining cultural and linguistic competence will require leadership in every aspect of health care including, but not limited to, health care training and education, public health policy, state public health agencies, research, health care financing, practice and service delivery, workforce development, community engagement, and advocacy.

The DRTE is committed to developing such leadership within its training programs.

3. Rationale for infusing content related to cultural and linguistic competence into health care training and programs

There are numerous reasons to infuse content related to cultural and linguistic competence into health care training and programs. Though not intended to be all-inclusive, the following list reflects contextual realities and provides reasons that are substantiated in the research literature in this area:

  • To address historical issues in health care, such as those issues relating to racism, discrimination, access to care, and significant disparities in health outcomes
  • To address the fact that the formal education of many faculty and staff has not prepared them to incorporate cultural and linguistic competence into teaching and research methodologies
  • To ensure that students develop prerequisite areas of awareness, knowledge, and skills in cultural and linguistic competence
  • To facilitate workforce diversity, both for its reflection of the population served and for its inherent strengths
  • To prepare the future workforce to lead, teach, develop, and administer public health policy and to practice in a multicultural environment;
  • To respond to legislative, regulatory, and accreditation mandates
  • To serve the institution’s and professional’s best interests by providing a competitive edge in (1) recruiting and retaining faculty and students and (2) obtaining grant funding for teaching, service, research, and other initiatives

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