Addressing culture within healthcare settings: the limits of cultural competence and the power of humility

  • Lauren MacKenzie University of Manitoba
  • Andrew Hatala University of Manitoba
Keywords: Culture, cultural competence, Biomedicine


As Canada continues to grow in diversity, health care providers will be encouraged to become more aware of cultural differences and their impact on health (7-9). The adoption of cultural competence teaching within medical curriculum was an important step. However, this approach does not fully capture the complexity and dynamism inherent to culture, and fails to acknowledge the culture(s) of biomedicine we are situated in as care providers. Without recognizing the role of culture in biomedical practice, we cannot fully implement a patient-centered approach to care. Applying the concept of cultural humility and its critical self-reflection is an important next step towards meaningfully addressing culture within the clinic.

Author Biographies

Lauren MacKenzie, University of Manitoba

Lauren MacKenzie, MD, is a PhD student and Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.

Andrew Hatala, University of Manitoba

Andrew R. Hatala, PhD, is a medical and psychological anthropologist with interest in cultural psychiatry and health psychology and currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. His previous research explores Indigenous youth resilience and well-being in urban Canadian contexts.