Conference Series Background
In the years since the First National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations was held in New York City in 1998, the field of cultural competence in health care has grown in ways that few could have predicted. Innovative approaches have evolved into common practices that are being widely disseminated and adapted. National standards and policy requirements are being adopted at the state and national levels, spreading awareness about cultural competence and disparity reduction into health care organizations not previously focused on these issues. Grantmakers have recognized the importance of supporting new innovations and facilitating the consolidation of entire fields of practice, such as cultural competence training and interpreter certification. And a recent Institute of Medicine report has focused national attention on cultural competence as an integral part of disparity reduction.
The seven conferences held to date (1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010) have played an important role in documenting and motivating progress in this field, and have drawn the interest of several types of audiences. Established experts in cultural competence practice and policy have strongly supported these meetings as an opportunity to share ideas and lend moral support to each other. Newcomers to the field, especially health care providers, have come to learn more about culturally competent care and to gain practical information to take back to their organizations. Additionally, national health policy leaders have been invited to participate to share their points of view, and to be educated about the substance of and enthusiasm behind this movement.
The format of the conference is grounded in workshop sessions that maximize audience participation, complemented by plenary sessions on key national policy issues. This conference seeks to facilitate learning as an ongoing, dynamic and social process, and strives to offer engaging sessions in which diverse participants can form bonds, participate as learners and teachers, and feel integral to the learning process. We believe presenters should make content relevant and meaningful, and offer ways to process information through dialogue, reflection, and application.
At each conference, plenary and workshop presentations highlight innovative strategies by reviewing the status of interventions discussed at previous conferences and reporting on “next phase” findings. Special emphasis is placed on interactive presentations and skills-building workshops. A day of preconference intensive training sessions precedes the two-and-a-half day main conference. At the main conference, more than 100 speakers offer skills-building, informational, and plenary sessions on topics ranging from the appropriate use of bilingual staff and interpreters to designing and assessing cultural competence training programs for health care professionals. Session tracks include organizational cultural competence, linguistic access, measurement and assessment, policy and research, and cultural competence training. The program also includes participatory roundtable sessions, resource center exhibitions, poster presentations, networking opportunities, and a film festival.
Communication extends beyond the conference through posting of supporting materials, proceedings and announcements on the conference website. Through the generous support of The California Endowment, we also promote communication and dissemination of information through the CLAS-talk listserv. Launched in January 2004, the list has over 1300 participants from healthcare organizations, government, business, academia, NGOs, and philanthropy.