BACKGROUND: Cultural competence, the ability to work in cross-cultural situations, has been acknowledged as a core skill for physiotherapists and other health professionals. Literature in this area has focused on the rationale for physiotherapists to provide culturally-competent care and the effectiveness of various educational strategies to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge about cultural competence by physiotherapists and physiotherapy students. However, there is a paucity of research on how students with different cultural needs, who are attending one university class, can be accommodated within a framework of learning core physiotherapy skills to achieve professional standards.
RESULTS: This paper reports on steps which were taken to resolve the specific needs of a culturally-diverse body of first year physiotherapy students, and the impact this had on teaching in a new physiotherapy program located in Greater Western Sydney, Australia. Physiotherapy legislative, accreditation and registration requirements were considered in addition to anti-discrimination legislation and the four ethical principles of decision making.
CONCLUSIONS: Reflection on this issue and the steps taken to resolve it has resulted in the development of a generic framework which focuses on providing quality and equitable physiotherapy education opportunities to all students. This framework is generalizable to other health professions worldwide.