Helping organizations, educational institutions, and healt care providers to be more effective when interacting with people from other cultures.

The modern health care system is a melting pot comprised of professionals and patients coming from diverse cultural background. In this multicultural setting, the need for intercultural competent health care providers (the ones who have been trained to follow the biomedical model of medicine) is of paramount importance because:

  • health care professionals and patients’ understanding of illness, health and health care are built on cultural beliefs and assumptions; and,
  • failure in communicating with culturally different patients can elicit inaccurate diagnosis and treatment, noncompliance or even dead.

It has been noted that most health care professional have been trained to work mostly with mainstream individuals or groups. Unless patients’ clothing, language, or appearance is different, many health care providers fail to consider patients cultural background when assessing, planning, and implementing care.

In the above context, ethnocentric health care professionals believe that their professionals perspectives are superior than others. Hence, studies report that they tend to stereotype patient’s experience and are resistant to accepting the perspective of other colleagues who might provide relevant cultural insight on, for instance, patient’s diagnosis and treatment.

On the other hand, social issues such as ethnocentrism, prejudice, stereotyping, and racism are ubiquitous even in the examining room [1]. For instance, “on approaches to health and illness, health care providers implicitly believe that they have a superior value system and the correct, most accurate approach to health care” [2].

This ethnocentric attitude is displayed when nurses, pharmacists, or social workers focus on the instrumental and mechanical activity of providing health care and neglect to interact personally and caringly with patients to assess, plan, and implement care [3,4]. Ethnocentrism in the health care system is so pervasive that even affects representatives of different branches of medicine. It has been reported, for instance, that surgeons feel superiors to internist, and pediatrics feel superior to psychiatrists [5].

Therefore, empirical knowledge and technical skills of health care providers are necessary but insufficient in the modern health care system. The actual challenge of health care providers lies on their ability to work closely and effectively with people from different cultural background and to function in a multidisciplinary and multicultural team.

The IC-21 intercultural training for health care providers and medicine and nursing students

In order to promote effective intercultural interaction among health care professionals, support staff, providers, and patients, the IC-21 provides culture-general training. The main goals are:

  • To make health care providers aware of the bias and limitations their own culture imposes on them;
  • To acknowledge that people beliefs about health and health care are culturally based originated from their experiences interacting with their families and institutions;
  • To be aware that culturally different patients might have difficulties communicating in health care situations due to their culturally based health beliefs, conflicting assumptions and expectations about health and health care;
  • To establish culturally appropriate verbal and nonverbal communication styles (high and low context, passive and active styles, and nonverbal behavior) with patients when dealing with serious health concern;
  • To take into account of Individualist and collectivistic cultural value orientation when planning, and implementing care;
  • To learn strategies for interacting in a culturally respectful manner with patients and to encourage full patient disclosure and participation;
  • To empathize with patients belief about the link between his/her health and disease with perception of religion when assessing, planning, and implementing care;
  • To understand critical cultural values that differentiate patients culture from the provider’s (mainstream) culture; and
  • To avoid violating patients rules, expectations, values and beliefs when assessing and implementing care.

Intercultural training length

For the health care sector, IC-21 provides culture-general training. This training is specially designed to address cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. In doing so, the training techniques to develop the mindset and skillset are lecture/discussion techniques, role playing, case studies, critical incidents, culture-general simulations, culture-specific simulations, movies, and didactic games. For the sake of comfort, our trainings and seminars can be also conducted in-house in your institution.

IC-21 culture-general training for health care providers

0ne-day Training

This is a one-day training, mostly carried out during the weekend. However, it is also possible to organize it during the working days. Generally, the training is divided in two sessions, namely, the morning session (4 hours) and the afternoon session (4 hours as well).


Two-day Training

It is carried out during two days. Eight hours per day, and each day is divided in two sessions of 4 hours each one. This option not only embraces more topics of the IC-21 Training Program but goes deeper on areas the participants required.


Four-day Training in a month

It spans 32 hours. It is carried out in four days during a month, one day each weekend. Besides covering the whole program of the IC-21 Training Program, this option explores in detail the “culture-specific area”. Trainees are provided with plenty of opportunity not only to practice but to get very familiar with “perspective taking”, role playing, and the impact of positive and negative emotions in very specific cross-cultural situations.


Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more detailed information.


[1] Tervalon, M., & Murray-Garcia, J. (1998). Cultural humility versus cultural competence: a critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 9(2), 117-125.

[2] Anand, R., & Lahiri, I. (2009). Intercultural Competence in Health Care: Developing Skills for Interculturally Competent Care. In Deardorff, D. (Ed.), The Sage handbook of intercultural competence. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

[3] Hall JA, Roter DL, Katz NR. (1988) Meta-analysis of correlates of provider behavior in medical encounters. Med Care 26 (7):657-75.

[4] Ventres, W. Gordon, P. (1990) Communication strategies in caring for the undeserved. Health Care Poor Undeserved 1(3):305-314.

[5] Freidson, E. (1974). Professional dominance: The social structure of medical care. Transaction Publishers.