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Cultural Competency in Healthcare: Home

A collaborative project between the library and Office of Multicultural Affairs


Please note: As of 2/12/24, this guide is beginning major updates. Please contact the library at if you have any questions about the current or upcoming content.

What is Cultural Competency (Cultural Humility)?

Welcome to the Library Guide on Cultural Competency in Healthcare.

Cultural competence in healthcare refers to the “ability of systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, including the tailoring of healthcare delivery to meet patients’ social, cultural and linguistic needs.” (American Hospital Association. Becoming a Culturally Competent Health Care Organization. Retrieved March 14, 2024, from

Structural competency is "the trained ability to discern how a host of issues defined clinically as symptoms, attitudes, or diseases...also represent the downstream implications of a number of upstream decisions about such matters as health care and food delivery systems, zoning laws, urban and rural infrastructures, medicalization, or even about the very definitions of illness and health.” Essentially, physicians who have learned this skill have an understanding of the impact of the social structure on a social group or individual." (Wang, Ernest E. Structural Competency: What Is It, Why Do We Need It, and What Does the Structurally Competent Emergency Physician Look Like? DOI: 10.1002/aet2.10415)


This guide represents a collaborative effort between the library and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The purpose of this guide is to complement and provide additional resources in support of the Des Moines University community. Additionally, resources are available to support respective DMU programs in culturally competent health care education.  For more information please contact Dr. Rich Salas at 515-271-1709.

Cultural Competency @ DMU

The Office of Multicultural Affairs

The Office of Multicultural Affairs is located on the second floor of Edge of Advancement (E4225), on our new campus at 8025 Grand Ave. Come in and visit to pick up pamphlets, learn about programs, and get access to our Panopto recordings.

Our team includes:

Dr. Rick Salas, Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. Helena Mica, Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs

James Sizer, Multicultural Affairs Coordinator