Cultural Awareness


Veterinary medicine touches our world and the people in it in many different ways. Disparities in health outcomes continue in many groups and many groups see the role of the veterinarian differently. It is crucial to learn about how best to assist various groups in the way most effective for them.

Some Suggestions:

  • Increase your understanding and appreciation of cultural differences and similarities among and between groups.
  • Approach individuals from different groups with respect in terms of cultural beliefs and practices.
  • Develop effective communication skills that allow you to elicit and acknowledge understanding of others, such as asking what the client believes is the problem, and what outcome of care is expected.
  • Learn about the cultural milieu of each academic and clinical setting you enter.
  • Explore various programs for low income populations and gain an awareness of health care delivery resources in your region. Partnerships with human health care can strengthen both components.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask others to help you understand how they view animal health and illness in their culture.

People I can Talk to:

  • Office for equity and diversity
  • Dr. Erin Malone, 612-625-4762,
  • Other faculty mentors, particularly those involved in SIRVS, VeTouch, and Professional Development
  • Your parents, family members and classmates
Final Thought

These comments are a beginning in your journey in becoming a competent and culturally sensitive veterinary student and veterinarian. Communication is challenging even within the same culture.


Practice listening to understand rather than listening to respond.

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2021

“Don’t forget who you are – but don’t let that same feeling keep you from connecting to others.”

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2019

“As a [med] student, I felt I had an advantage in getting thorough histories from patients, because I was given more time with them. This helped me hone my communication skills as well as my cultural sensitivity. One time, some residents had thought a patient from Guam had received little education because of his non-compliance. After spending time with that patient, I learned that he had actually graduated from college, and was non-compliant because the goals of his treatment had not been explained to him. Over time, a more effective, culturally sensitive relationship developed.

JABSOM Student, Class of 2004

“Wouldn’t a world (and a school) where everyone was the same be really boring?”

JABSOM Student, Class of 2006

“Take advantage of the [time]to identify your own biases, strengths and weaknesses in your interpersonal skills. The program offers such a valuable opportunity to grow personally and it is easy to overlook this when we think [that all] we are supposed to learn about [is] disease.”

JABSOM Student Class of 2007


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Well-being Handbook Copyright © 2019 by Erin Malone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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