Date of Award

Spring 5-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Health Sciences


Health and Medical Sciences


Genevieve Pinto Zipp, EdD

Committee Member

Michelle Lee D’Abundo, PhD

Committee Member

Kristine Lewis Grant, PhD


Medical Education, Cultural Competency, Medical Students, Physicians, Readiness, Diversity, Medical School Curriculum


Background: The US population is more culturally diverse than ever. Although advancements have been made in improving the nation’s overall health, health disparities continue among different racial and ethnic groups. To promote person-centered care practices, medical students must be ready to serve diverse patient populations and provide equitable care. Despite their training, some medical students report feeling unprepared to treat diverse patient populations, potentially impacting their clinical practice and patient care outcomes.

Purpose: This study’s purpose was to explore the perceived readiness of final-year medical students in the US to provide culturally competent care utilizing the Readiness Theory and The Purnell Model for Cultural Competence. As noted in the literature, readiness is a state of preparedness. Readiness Theory infers that one’s readiness encompasses their situational knowledge, attitude, and confidence.

Methods: A mixed-method approach was utilized in this study; it involved semi-structured interviews that explored the constructs of readiness via open ended questions and included the completion of a quantitative validated instrument (GWCCS) measuring culture competence via the lens of The Purnell Model for Cultural Competence. Sixteen participants from various institutions and regions of the US engaged in this non-experimental, cross-sectional research.

Results: All students demonstrated cultural competence knowledge, quantitatively, as measured by the GWCCS. Additionally, their culturally competent knowledge base was also supported by their self-reported responses to knowledge questions posed during the interviews. Surprisingly, emerging from the qualitative data, while most students voiced positive attitudes towards culturally competent practice, their confidence levels varied.

Conclusion: Majority of the medical students perceived that they were ready to serve as culturally competent practitioners, however inconsistencies surfaced regarding their confidence levels. Based upon the readiness theory, confidence is one of the three constructs which defines one’s overall readiness thus the findings left us with concerns regarding students' actual readiness. These results highlight the need for a more uniform and robust cultural competence curricula in medical schools that promotes students’ cultural competence knowledge and perceived importance and confidence as we seek to address health disparities by ensuring that health professionals are ready to address them.

Keywords: Medical Education, Cultural Competency, Medical Students, Physicians, Readiness, Diversity, Medical School Curriculum