Using cultural immersion in a first year undergraduate medical program in Australia.
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All health professionals require an understanding of different cultures to be able to work effectively and safely with their patients and other team members. In 2011 Bond University renewed its undergraduate medical program to include significant cultural awareness and Indigenous health education, as a result of community need and Australian Medical Council recommendations. This included in 2012 Bond establishing an Indigenous Health Unit and an Indigenous Health Working Party to implement its curriculum. For the past two years Bonds first year students have undertaken a compulsory two day cultural immersion process to increase their understanding of other cultures, particularly Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It is believed that this is the first time in Australia, and possibly overseas, that cultural immersion has been undertaken as a compulsory early part of a first year medical program. This paper presents the findings from the evaluation of these two cultural immersions, as well as the initial findings of a longitudinal study to determine the impact cultural awareness programs. This information may assist others in the design and development of similar programs, or policies.
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