2023 | Volume 24 | Issue 2

World-first cultural safety plan launches in Aotearoa New Zealand

World-first cultural safety plan launches in Aotearoa New Zealand

A plan to provide cultural safety training will be embedded in doctors’ medical education in what is being described as a ‘world first’. 

The Cultural Safety Training Plan, (which can be found here: bit.ly/3LROQMa), launched on 8 February 2023, was developed by the Council of Medical Colleges and Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa, Māori Medical Practitioners Association. 

It provides a practical framework for the 17 Aotearoa New Zealand (AoNZ) medical colleges, including RACS, to develop cultural safety education for Trainees and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs for Fellows. 

Cultural competence education and training has been on the curriculum of AoNZ medical schools and colleges for some years now with the aim of providing high-quality care and improved outcomes for patients.

More recently, the Medical Council of New Zealand introduced cultural safety as a standard for doctors to adhere to.

While cultural competence focuses on increasing knowledge and skills around interactions with patients of different cultures—especially Māori—cultural safety aims to tackle biases, even unconscious ones, that may impact on best outcomes for the patient. Cultural safety requires doctors to continually examine their interactions with patients with the aim of providing equitable service to all cultures. 

Besides providing a framework for culturally safe medical practice, the Cultural Safety Training Plan provides definitions of the proficiencies culturally safe doctors need to develop; teaching and assessment criteria; and self-assessment tools. 

It is designed to be used across all medical disciplines and reflects the unique context of AoNZ, with a particular emphasis on Māori health equity and achieving optimal health for Māori patients and whānau.

It is intended as guidance only and medical colleges have the flexibility to implement the plan in a way that best algins with their current training programs and in the context of their vocation. 

RACS already provides cultural safety education to our Trainees and Fellows. Cultural competency and cultural safety is one of the 10 competencies central to surgical training skills and the CPD framework. The Cultural Safety Training Plan however, will be a useful resource for our members for cultural safety activities and assessment.