In the past few decades, there has been a significant shift in population dynamics, with increasing numbers of racial and ethnic minorities who are disproportionately afflicted with chronic illness.1  Models predict that ethnic minority patients over the age of 65 will comprise 35 percent of the U.S. population by the year 2050. The U.S. has long suffered from health disparities along the lines of race, ethnicity and geographic location. Given this population shift and the resultant impact on national health outcomes, it is simply not enough to train future physicians in the provision of medical care alone. Providing culturally competent care through the development of a diverse physician workforce can serve as a strategy for meeting the growing needs of our evolving patient population.

Understanding the implications and underpinnings of cultural and demographic changes will...

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