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Cultural competence isn't a destination; it's a journey that never stops.

The physical therapy profession cannot achieve its vision of societal transformation without a commitment to promoting and practicing a high level of cultural competence in all areas of practice, research, and education. It’s 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.


Recommended Content

Achieving Cultural Competence

Jan 15, 2020 / Open Access

Resources for Teaching Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy Education

Oct 6, 2020 / Resource

Cultural Competence Policy

Sep 20, 2019 / Policies & Bylaws

Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

Jun 2, 2020

Evidence shows racial and ethnic disparities exist across a range of illnesses and health care services.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

May 19, 2020

We are striving to improve DEI in our profession and association.

Additional Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy Content

Cultural Considerations for Clinical Decision Making in Diverse Populations

Feb 8, 2021 / Resource

This course considers the clinical decision-making process and clinical reasoning strategies for incorporating the needs of a diverse patient population.

Diversity Climate: A Key for Successful Diversity Management in Physical Therapy

Feb 8, 2021 / Resource

This course introduces physical therapy professionals to the concept of Diversity Climate and its relationship to positive organizational outcomes.

Cultural Competence Resources: Gender Identity and Expression

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.

Cultural Competence Resources: Race and Ethnicity

Jan 15, 2021 / Article

A baseline for beginning to explore cultural competence as it relates to race and ethnicity.

Cultural Competence: Persons Who Are Refugees or of Differing National Origin

Jan 8, 2021 / Article

Insight on working in cross-cultural situations.

Cultural Competence Resources: Individuals With Disabilities

Nov 24, 2020 / Article

The culturally competent practice of physical therapy includes practice with patients and clients who have mental or physical disabilities.

Cultural Competence Resources: Older Adult Patients and Clients

Nov 12, 2020 / Resource

Older adults deserve care based on clinical need without the interference of ageism.

Seven Resources To Inform Your Practice With LGBTQ+ Patients and Clients

Oct 13, 2020 / Article

Individuals who identify as members of a sexual minority deserve care that's sensitive to difference.

Five Ways To Be an LGBTQ Patient Ally

Jul 21, 2020 / Open Access

You can help LGBTQ patients feel safe and supported by taking these five simple actions.

The Look

Jun 5, 2020 / Perspective

"The look" comes from a poor understanding of those who are different from us.