Introducing B21 Scholar: Juan Pimentel
Juan Pimentel, Using Game Jams to Train Colombian Medical Students on Cultural Safety
I am a general practitioner and epidemiologist from Colombia and currently, I am a PhD candidate in Family Medicine at McGill. I became interested in cultural safety when, as a senior medical student, I started working for a Colombian NGO1 devoted to fostering intercultural dialogue for health promotion. This NGO has been working with Colombian traditional medicine users and providers for more than 30 years.
Volunteering for this NGO, I visited Colombian rural municipalities and had the opportunity to interact and learn from authentic traditional doctors. I became aware of the existence of a very delicate knowledge system and practices that, according to the WHO, more than 40% of Colombians use to maintain their health.2 I also realized that medical students do not learn how to properly interact with and respect traditional medicine users in official health services, thus hindering their access to effective healthcare. Therefore, in 2014 I started an exploratory community-based experience aimed at training medical students in cultural safety at La Sabana University in Colombia.
Cultural safety in medical training encourages medical students to respect their patients’ way of being and knowing, and to examine their own culture, experiences, beliefs, and attitudes, and how these shapes clinical practice.3 Thorough my early experience providing this type of training, I identified two main challenges: first, medical students are generally disinterested in learning about cultural safety as their main interests lean towards highly specialized and technified clinical practice. Second, cultural safety training needs to foster a transformative experience in which learners are able to change their behavior in clinical practice. Therefore, I am currently interested in using game jams to train medical students and family medicine residents in cultural safety. Game jams are participatory events in which groups of ‘jammers’ create and play games in a time-constrained environment.
A key aspect of cultural safety is that culturally safe care is co-constructed between end-users and researchers.3 During my B21 residency and using qualitative research, I intend to develop a co-designed curriculum for cultural safety training with input provided by Colombian traditional medicine users, senior medical students, and cultural safety experts from Colombia and Canada. The co-designed curriculum will define what academic content will medical students learn in order to be able to provide culturally safe care. Similarly, I will develop a full protocol for the proposed game jam.
The research will be rooted in learning theories such as Mezirow’s adult transformative learning4 which enables transformation of frames-of-reference. Game jams require communication and critical reflection between students to create games, and are based on communicative, problem-based, challenge-based, and auto-reflective processes. In the final stage of my research, I will use a randomized controlled trial to explore the effectiveness of a game jam compared with a standard lesson to train medical students in cultural safety.
I thank B21 at McGill University for supporting my research project. I hope I can develop innovative educational and research methods that will benefit medical students and traditional medicine users around the world.
1. CEMI. Center for Intercultural Medical Studies. http://www.cemi.org.co/. Published 2017. Accessed July 31, 2018.
2. World Health Organization. WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002–2005. Geneva, Switzerland; 2002. http://www.wpro.who.int/health_technology/book_who_traditional_medicine_strategy_2002_2005.pdf.
3. National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). Cultural Competency and Safety: A Guide for Health Care Administrators, Providers and Educators.; 2008. https://en.unesco.org/interculturaldialogue/resources/249.
4. Mezirow J. Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. New Dir Adult Contin Educ. 1997;1997(74):5-12. doi:10.1002/ace.7401.