Drink Your Garlic Tea and Take Your ACE Inhibitors: Mexican-American Alternative Medicine and Texas Medical School Cultural Competency Programs
Current literature suggests that healthcare in the U.S. does not adequately address culture. This issue is important in border states such as Texas that have large populations of Spanish-speaking patients, yet Texas medical school training is insufficient for treating the growing Hispanic population. In particular, Texas medical schools are inadequately preparing students to provide culturally competent care to Hispanic patients. This lack of preparation often contributes to cultural and linguistic barriers between physicians and Hispanic patients. A physician’s lack of understanding about a patient’s cultural background can hinder the physician-patient relationship, thereby negatively affecting patient outcomes and adherence. Therefore, physicians should be taught common features of Hispanic cultures that impact healthcare, such as the use of complementary medicine, spiritual healing practices, undisclosed pharmaceutical use, and other cultural values pertaining to health. Through a review of sociological studies, medical school curricula, and historical records, this study argues that cultural competency holds a significant role in improving health equity for Hispanic patients. Recommendations are made for Texas medical school cultural competency programs to incorporate instruction on culture and require language components as an approach to more effectively teach students to provide culturally appropriate care.