ASCO Cultural Competency Case Study Competition for Optometry Students and Residents

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Generously Sponsors This Competition

Application Period Now Closed

Sponsored by the ASCO Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee, with the generous support of Walmart, this competition is available for a second consecutive year to optometry students at the 21 accredited schools and colleges in the 50 states and Puerto Rico as well as to optometry residents. Award money of $2,500 will be given to one national student recipient, and $2,500 also will be awarded to one resident recipient.


In an effort to promote cultural competency at its colleges and universities, the ASCO Board of Directors approved the ASCO Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care in 2008. This widely-used document is an adaptation of best practices from schools, colleges, organizations, and associations of the health professions and is available here. A PowerPoint presentation is also available.

The rationale for the ASCO Guidelines states that “It is a clinical necessity that optometrists possess the patient-centered attitudes, knowledge and skills necessary to competently serve a diverse community with its spectrum of education, experiences, beliefs, values, customs, preferences, fears and expectations that impact the interpersonal interactions of clinical care.” ASCO has determined that a compilation of optometric case studies will greatly augment the Guidelines, serving as a resource tool for institutions concerned with promoting cultural competency in the clinical setting and across the curriculum. The ASCO Cultural Competency Case Study Competition for Students and Residents will collect relevant case studies and monetarily reward entrants for the winning case studies. Once submitted, all case studies, not just those of the award recipients, will become the property of ASCO for future educational use online, in workshops and in other capacities as warranted.


Cultural Competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, policies that come together

in a system, agency or amongst professionals and enable that system, agency, or those

professionals to work effectively in cross cultural situations” (Cross, et al., 1989).




Before preparing a case study for submission, competition applicants are strongly encouraged to view the ASCO Guidelines referenced above.

1)      You must be a current student in the final two years of your professional program, or a current resident. 

2)      Your application should consist of a case-study write-up of up to 2,000 words describing a patient-based encounter in any aspect of your clinical education (optical, clinical services, etc.). You do not need to be the principal clinician in the case study, just a witness to it. (That means that any situation in which you participated that was dealt with by you, a faculty member, or a fellow student, or some combination is eligible for submission.) Please try to answer these questions as you write your case study:

To what groups does this patient belong? What factors might influence the cultural dynamics of a healthcare provider-client relationship for this patient? What barriers to equity in health care exist for this patient? What health problems are more prevalent in the groups to which this patient belongs? What cultural competency issues are illustrated by this case? How can these issues be addressed in a culturally competent manner?

3)      Your case study should describe your encounter in detail and how cultural competency played a role. More specifically, you might include details regarding the patient-centered attitude, knowledge and skills, and the cultural background of the clinical participant(s) involved and the cultural and background information on the patient(s) seen, as well as the dilemma or circumstance pertaining to cultural awareness/competency. (We are not looking for a case description of how to treat an ocular disease process or things of that nature; your case study write-up should be about the cultural elements.) You should tell us how the situation was handled – negatively or positively – and what you learned from it. We want cases that will ultimately help teach others how to handle similar situations. Again, we want the greatest emphasis in your submission to be on the cultural competency elements not on the clinical data.

4)      If available, we suggest that you include citations for appropriate and relevant high quality sources of published information related to the tenants of culturally competent clinical care. 

5)      Once finalized, your case study should be given to the assigned awards coordinator at your institution. You should also check with your school if IRB approval is necessary before submission.

6)      The assigned awards coordinator at each school or college of optometry is permitted to submit two student case studies and two resident case studies. 

7)      A selection group comprised of members from the ASCO Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee, the Cultural Competency Curriculum Guidelines Subcommittee, and a Walmart O.D. will decide the winning selections; their selections are final.

8)      Submissions will be accepted between February 16 and April 14, 2015. Submissions received after C.O.B. April 14 will not be accepted.

9)      All submissions should be sent in Microsoft Word format (Word 2010 if possible) — no PDF’s please — with a cover letter via e-mail to

Questions?  Contact Ms. Brubaker via e-mail at