The Clinical Tools section of the Genetic Counseling Cultural Competence Toolkit includes an array of resources to enhance clinical practice. The tips from genetic counselors document includes helpful pointers learned from the rich experiences of our colleagues. We included cultural and spiritual assessment tools, cultural immersion activities, and information about complementary and alternative medicine. We provide links and additional information about the recent Institute of Medicine report on collecting race, ethnicity, and language data from your clients. For the benefit of genetic counselors and students who learn best by demonstrations, we included links to videos and webinars for enhancing specific clinical skills such as in patient interviewing.
We suggest that you begin this section by taking the self-assessment test, developed by Tawara D. Goode, National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development.
The Organizational Cultural Competence section takes a global look at the environment in which genetic counselors work. Be it your hospital, the specialty clinic you staff, the genetic testing company where you work, or the graduate training program where you are enrolled, genetic counselors are a part of a larger working environment, which impacts our interactions with our clients. Does your hospital have welcoming signage in the languages spoken by people in the community? Do you offer flexible clinic times to accommodate people who cannot attend daytime appointments due to work obligations? Does your center have outreach clinics close to home to reach underserved clients? Is the hospital easy to get to by public transportation? Do you have staff that reflects the demography of the city? This are questions to consider as part of the exercise of exploring organizational cultural competence.
The NSGC is taking a leadership role for the genetic counseling profession by initiating the process of organizational cultural competence. The recommendations of the National Society of Genetic Counselors Organizational Cultural Competence Task Force of September 17, 2009 are cited below. The recommendations include “a framework for organizational cultural competence, a plan for ongoing education in cross cultural competence on NSGC members, volunteers and staff, including implementation timelines, and performance measures for evaluation progress toward desired cultural competency outcomes and a timeline for evaluation.” The areas of concentration fall under the following categories: ‘leadership; membership diversity and training; data collection, public accountability, and quality improvement; integration into management systems and operations; and community engagement.” Every genetic counselor should take time to review the NSGC recommendations and consider how to support the NSGC’s initiative by providing feedback and playing a role in implementing proposed actions. When you review the document, you will note that the NSGC Task Force adapted a National Quality Forum-endorsed framework for its organizational cultural competence initiative. There are many frameworks that could be used. We have provided several templates and model initiatives to help genetic counselors evaluate their working environment for responsiveness to the culturally and linguistically diverse clients and communities they serve.