Discussing cultural competence with your peer group

College news
1 September 2018

Cultural competence skills will help you to develop strong relationships with your patients and their families, leading to greater accuracy in diagnosis, improved treatment plans and greater continuity of care when consulting with people of cultural backgrounds that are different to your own.

Fellows and registrars of the College are expected to have developed their cultural competence skills to a high level, and to continue to maintain this.

The College's CPD programme includes the requirement that a small proportion of a doctor’s CPD activities include activities relating to cultural competence at an individually appropriate level.

Aside from the fact that all GPs wish to provide the best possible care and achieve the best outcomes for their patients, there are several other factors that have led to the growing awareness of the need for culturally competent health care; in particular, the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act’s (‘HPCAA’) legislative requirement for cultural competence.

Ultimately, the result of increased cultural competency skills is greater doctor and patient satisfaction, with better health outcomes. 

What's more, cultural competency is an important part of workplace health. Becoming more culturally aware can improve your workplace relationships, fostering a sense of mutual understanding and respect between colleagues.

One way of brushing up on these skills is to have a reflective discussion with your peer group, to encourage better understanding and consideration of the cultural components of health care.

You might record these discussions as credit towards your cultural competency CPD requirements (please note that for one peer group session, you may claim credit towards your cultural competency requirements or your peer group requirements – not both).

Some possible starting points are listed below, with some handy resources and tips to help you have a productive session.


1. Have a structured case discussion

You may like to consider having a structured case discussion as part of your peer group meeting. 

Each peer group member could think about a situation or experience where they felt unsure of the cultural expectations, norms or requirements.

Each person could present their case, and work through the following questions:

  • What was the cultural experience or situation?
  • How did it make you feel as a practitioner?
  • Were there any barriers to providing equitable care? i.e. were there issues regarding health equity?
  • How were these issues managed or addressed?
  • If there was an inequitable element in this situation, what might be done to prevent it in future?
  • How might those actions be altered to accommodate another culture?

2. Discuss topics of cultural significance

Your peer group may like to discuss topics that are of significance in Māori culture, and how they manifest in your own community.

To do this, you could discuss some of the factors that might be considered important in Māori culture, that are frequently encountered in medical communities. For example:

  • Connection to the whenua (land)
  • Whakapapa, and the calling of ancestors
  • The use of te reo Māori in the consultation
  • The return of body parts
  • Rituals around significant events such as birth and death

Each person in the group could choose a particular area of study, and find out how that topic is managed at a local hospital.

Alternatively, group members could bring along a case which relates to one of these topics. The group could discuss the impact of these cultural factors on patients, and on themselves.

3. Discuss cultural beliefs and values

Cultural beliefs and values, sometimes referred to as spirituality, is of great importance to many people, but it may not necessarily be a routine topic of discussion in a consultation.

Peer group members may find it useful to speak with each other about how – and if  – these beliefs and values is brought up in a consultation, or to discuss cases related to this area.

Things you could consider:

  • Do you bring up cultural beliefs and values in consultations?
  • If you do, how do you do bring it up?
  • If you don't, how might you bring this up in a consultation?
  • What factors should be considered when bringing up cultural beliefs and values? E.g.: location, cultural context, your own background

Cultural Competency Resources

For more information about your cultural competency requirements, and activities that you can complete to meet them, please visit the CPD resources section of your Dashboard.

Resources include a cultural competency framework and guidelines, online and self-directed courses, and other useful tips.

View Cultural Competency Resources


To find out more about your cultural competency requirements, please visit the CPD Resources page of your Dashboard.

If you have any questions about cultural competency, please get in contact with our Māori and Health Equity team.