More and more, speech-language pathology training programs include curriculum material intended to increase cultural competency in practicing professionals. But how far along are we in this trend? A recent survey (Guiberson M, et al., Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2021 Sep 23;30(5):2017-2027. doi: 10.1044/2021_AJSLP-20-00324) answers this question – and the answer is mixed.
One hundred ten department chairs of university programs with graduate speech-language pathology training participated in this study. They responded to questions on cultural competency content in their curricula. Respondents were sorted into three groups, corresponding to admission practices: traditional admissions, some holistic measures, or holistic review.
The ‘some holistic measures’ and ‘holistic review’ groups had significantly more content that focused on cultural competency than the traditional group, and also used a wider range of pedagogical approaches in teaching. These programs also covered a wider range of topics, that included modules on the importance of listening non-judgmentally to clients' health beliefs, and valuing curiosity, empathy, and respect for others. The authors of the study observed that ‘less than 30% of the traditional admissions programs … taught about institutional biases or the value of eliminating disparities, and less than 40% reported that students [were] comfortable talking about culture openly or [felt] able to discuss their own cultural backgrounds or biases.’
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