Cultural Competency: What is it and How Can I Become More Competent

 diversity network

Cultural Competency Defined

  • Set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations.  (US Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with persons from cultures and/or belief systems other than one's own. (
Cultural competency is the willingness and ability to value importance of culture in the delivery of service to all segments of the population. It is a perspective which values differences and is responsive to diversity at all levels of veterinary medicine. The process of arriving at this perspective requires continual growth in cultural awareness, continued exposure to cultures other than your own, and the development of cultural knowledge and skills.
So, cultural competency sounds like a good thing, particularly with our world becoming ever smaller. But you might ask yourself, “How can I enhance my cultural competency—and what impact might that have on how I practice veterinary medicine?”

The links below will take you to some tools to get you started on your path toward culturally competency. 

*This resource was developed in 2012-2013 through a partnership with the AVMA Future Leaders Program, which is funded by Zoetis Animal Health.