Cultural competence isn't a destination; it's a journey that never stops.
The physical therapy profession's transformative power is magnified through a commitment to promoting and practicing a high level of cultural competence in all areas of practice, research, and education. It's the key to our future as relevant health care providers.
Far from being a limited set of prescribed skills, cultural competence is more holistic—"a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables work in cross-cultural situations," according to the CDC. Those cross-cultural situations aren't limited to race or ethnicity—they can also include language, religion, age, gender identification and much more.
While a major component of the cultural competence journey involves understanding and appreciating differences, working toward those "congruent behaviors" also requires individuals to take an honest look at themselves, their own biases, and how those biases may affect the care they provide patients—and the ways they see the world around them. Working toward greater cultural competence demands a willingness to learn and an openness to possibility.
Jan 15, 2020 / Open Access
Achieving cultural competence is a process, not an end point. Individuals and organizations should have an ongoing plan for improvement.
Oct 6, 2020 / Resource
Use these resources within your program or curriculum to teach cultural competence to your physical therapy students.
Sep 20, 2019 / Policies & Bylaws
House position: The American Physical Therapy Association supports cultural competence as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jun 2, 2020
Evidence shows racial and ethnic disparities exist across a range of illnesses and health care services.
May 19, 2020
We are striving to improve DEI in our profession and association.
Additional Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy Content
Oct 20, 2020 / Resource
This course considers the clinical decision-making process and clinical reasoning strategies for incorporating the needs of a diverse patient population.
Nov 13, 2020 / Resource
This course introduces physical therapy professionals to the concept of Diversity Climate and its relationship to positive organizational outcomes.
Apr 5, 2023 / Perspective
APTA's DEI Toolkit can help you learn, develop, and engage around critical concepts.
Dec 15, 2021 / Article
Access a list of climate scanning tools to help you assess the DEI culture of your individual spaces and identify areas of improvement.
Sep 9, 2021 /
Have you ever stopped to think about your bias? In ways big and small. Awareness, empathy, and with inclusivity are the themes we discuss in this episode.
Jun 29, 2021 / News
Charlene Portee delivered a frank assessment of where things stand, and an inspiring vision for courageously embracing change.
Feb 8, 2021 / Article
PTs and PTAs must be aware of the diversity and complexity of gender identity to provide patient-centered, patient-partnered care.
Jan 15, 2021 / Article
A baseline for beginning to explore cultural competence as it relates to race and ethnicity.
Jan 8, 2021 / Article
Insight on working in cross-cultural situations.
Nov 24, 2020 / Article
The culturally competent practice of physical therapy includes practice with patients and clients who have mental or physical disabilities.