Throughout the curriculum, we incorporate opportunities to build and strengthen students’ cultural competency and ability to deliver healthcare to each patient in a holistic manner. Cultural considerations are integrated throughout standard didactic class sessions including research, each body system and a “special populations” course. For example, the students might be learning about diabetes and then work through a case of a homeless male whose diabetes is uncontrolled; or a patient who comes from a culture that equates physical illness with spiritual intervention. Community engagement activities during the didactic year provide dedicated time to develop cultural and self-awareness via field experience and reflection. With the help of over twenty community partners, each student logs over 60 hours of experiences in diverse settings.
In the Special Populations course, students explore root causes of healthcare disparity among different groups using a social determinants of health framework. Students have also chosen research or community clinical quality improvement projects to explore issues of diversity with topics such as “Clinical management of diabetes in Muslim patients during Ramadan in Minnesota” and working with a PA faculty member to develop, deliver and evaluate a breast and cervical cancer training for mid-level practitioners in Arusha, Tanzania.
We also provide the opportunity for interested students to participate in international clinical rotations or electives. To date, students have traveled to Haiti, Cuba, South Korea, Argentina, Tanzania and Guatemala. In the fall of 2018, St. Catherine University’s MPAS program initiated a Global Health and Underserved Populations Track. Here, students can choose to focus on underserved populations in their research, clinical quality improvement projects, and clinical rotations and would be prioritized for international options. Nine students (28%) in the 2020 cohort have enrolled in this new track. Below is a summary of student participation in international rotations or electives over the past five years.
Percent Student Participation in International Rotations or Study by Cohort
||2014 % (N=24)
||2015 % (N=32)
||2016 % (N=30)
||2017 % (N=31)
||2018 % (N=30)
|Participate in international rotation
||25 % (6)
*Hurricane Matthew damaged the clinical site in Haiti and affected rotation plans for 4 students.