Cultural Competence

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and its member institutions have embraced the concepts of diversity and multiculturalism in optometric education and in the profession. With generous financial support from Walmart, ASCO has been implementing a multi-year project focusing on cultural competence.

The goal is to assist the schools and colleges of optometry in the preparation of a diverse pool of optometric clinicians who will be clinically ready to address the vision and eye care needs of a multicultural and global community.

In June 2008, the ASCO Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care were approved by the ASCO Board of Directors. This document is an adaptation of best practices from schools, colleges, organizations, and associations of the health professions. A condensed summary presentation of the Guidelines is available as both a PowerPoint presentation and as a basic document. Members of the faculty, staff, and student bodies of the schools and colleges of optometry can use these as an introduction to the content of the Guidelines and in developing presentations on cultural competency in optometry.

ASCO conducted a Cultural Competence Curriculum Training Workshop in Fort Lauderdale, FL in May, 2009. The training was designed for ASCO Chief Academic Officers or their designees. Members of the ASCO Cultural Competence and Diversity Task Forces also participated. This workshop featured didactic and experiential activities designed to help develop and refine plans to integrate cultural competent content into optometry coursework in order to ensure students become culturally competent providers.

ASCO’s focus on cultural competence continued in late 2010 with a special  emphasis on guidelines for curriculum implantation at the institutional level. In addition, other areas such as cultural competency training for staff and others in the clinical setting were addressed. The Cultural Competency Curriculum Guidelines Subcommittee of the ASCO Optometry Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee has worked to ensure that the guidelines are implemented at ASCO’s member schools and colleges so that faculty, staff and students are better prepared to effectively deliver culturally competent health care and positively impact the quality of care the profession delivers within the context of an increasingly diverse society.

In late 2012, the Subcommittee rolled out its on-site Cultural Competency Guidelines Implementation Workshops beginning with a competitive application process. Interested institutions will be considered for a fully-funded, on-campus workshop designed to address institution-specific needs in implementing the ASCO Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care. The workshops will feature a variety of exercises on attitudes, knowledge and skills as well as illustrative case studies designed to provide additional understanding and growth, all with the goal of helping each institution with its own unique challenges of achieving cultural competence.

The following are some links that the Subcommittee has explored and recommends to individuals wishing to learn more about cultural competence in optometric education or cultural competence in general:

Written Materials (available free of charge)

Chu, Gary and Goode, Tawara “Cultural and Linguistic Competence”, In:  Hatch SW, et al.  Optometric Care in the Public Health Community.
Links to complete text

National CLAS Standards

The 2000 National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (National CLAS Standards) from The Office of Minority Health, featured in ASCO’s Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care, have been updated. The 2013 National CLAS Standards are now available here.

Toward Culturally Competent Care Curriculum

Toward Culturally Competent Care Curriculum is a UCSF curriculum to aid educators in teaching clinicians the attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to provide culturally competent care. To order a copy, please contact Indria Cooper at icooper@thecenter.ucsf.edu. Link to curriculum: http://futurehealth.ucsf.edu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=d5X%2fOqyqeuY%3d&tabid=185

Visual Materials (free or available for purchase)

Through a Different Lens: Exploring Cultural and Linguistic Competence in Eye Care (A Four-Part Series) [2009]

Includes a DVD and Facilitators Guoide. Contact the department of Community Collaborations at the New England College of Optometry at www.NewEnglandEye.org.

Communicating Effectively Through an Interpreter (Barriers to Communication): An Instructional Video for Health Care Providers [2005]

From the Cross Cultural Health Care Program (www.xculture.org).  Available at: https://xculture.org/store/?slug=index.php&cPath=22

Cultural Diversity in Eye Care: Key Practice Techniques for Creating Bonds with Culturally Diverse Patients [2007]

Contact Vannary Mak at the Vision Care Institute, LLC at VMak@ITS.JNJ.com or register at tvciedu.com and click on the E-Learning tab for a free podcast.

Infusing Cultural and Linguistic Competence into Health Promotion Training [2005]

National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC), developed in collaboration with the National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death & Pregnancy Loss Resource Center (Close-Up Productions, Inc.)

Information about the program
View online
Chapters 1-6 of the program are also available on YouTube
Additional NCCC resources


ASCO would like to thank Walmart for their generous financial support of this multi-year project.