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Residents Ill-Equipped to Handle Diverse Patient Pool, Study Says

SEPTEMBER 6, 2005 -- Many residency physicians —who will soon become doctors—are not equipped to provide care for a racially and ethnic diverse population, according to an article published in the Sept. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The survey, whose research was supported by The Commonwealth Fund, revealed that about half of resident physicians in their last year of training had received little or no training to provide cross-cultural care" during their residency as the immigrant and ethnic population grows in the United States, the Fund said in a news release.

About one-fourth of the residents felt unprepared to deal with patients whose health beliefs do not coincide with Western medicine. About one-fifth said they were not prepared to care for patients whose religious beliefs may affect care.

"Although physicians recognize that cultural competency is a necessary component of high-quality health care, they are not being given the tools they need to provide this care," said Stephen C. Schoenbaum, executive vice president at The Commonwealth Fund.

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