Date of Completion

Spring 4-30-2014

Thesis Advisor(s)

Pamela I. Erickson

Honors Major



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Other Anthropology | Other Nursing | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This paper analyzes the current state of progress toward cultural competency in the medical workplace, specifically in the hospital setting. It compares the current writing on the topic to research done at a large New England children’s hospital. The nurses are all individuals who work in an out patient setting so they often see the same patients regularly for longer periods of time. This differs from the in-patient or floor nurses who only spend limited time with a constantly changing population of patients. The research involved one-on-one interviews and a focus group with nurses at the hospital. The focus group participants also took a survey before and after the one-hour discussion. In the interviews the nurses were asked about their experience with diverse patients, any cultural conflicts that have come up with their patients including issues of “non-adherence”, how they themselves and the hospital as a whole responded to those cultural conflicts, and their exposure to and knowledge about Complementary and Alternative Medicines. The focus group involved a presentation that provided some background information on cultural competency followed by hypothetical cultural conflict scenarios. The nurses discussed how they would respond to these scenarios. The surveys before and after the focus group asked similar questions to the interviews but they can be analyzed quantitatively and they allow the tracking of any changes in responses after the focus group. This research offers an interesting look into the current state of cultural competency in one example medical workplace.