New Jersey becomes first state to mandate cultural competency for docs

According to this article on, New Jersey has become the first state in the U.S. to pass a law that mandates docs be educated on the unique needs of patients from different cultural backgrounds:

When white people are diagnosed with diabetes, their doctors tend to prescribe a healthier lifestyle. When black people are diagnosed with the same disease, their doctors hospitalize them.

According to state Sen. Wayne Bryant, this discrepancy happens in about 75 percent of diabetes cases. He said the health care industry is riddled with similar racial, cultural and ethnic inequalities.

On Wednesday, Bryant looked on as Acting Gov. Richard Codey signed Bill S-144 into law at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). The bill mandates that all physicians in the state submit to cultural competency training. It applies both to physicians still in training and those who have already received their licenses.

"We have an obligation to recognize the unique needs of our diverse community," said Codey. "One area where we need to be especially sensitive to the needs of minorities is health care."

The article also says that Arizona, New York, California and Illinois are considering similar proposals. We're thinking about doing an article on all this for an upcoming issue, so if you have any thoughts on this, please give me a call at (978) 448-0377, or drop me a line at [email protected]

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