Naturopathic medicine (ND) students now have the opportunity to gain a more thorough understanding of diverse populations through a new series of lectures taught every trimester by Tawainna Houston, ND, MDiv.
Implemented last fall, the Cultural Competency Lecture Series explores “Origins of Disease among African Americans,” “Implicit Racial Bias in Medicine,” and “Cultural Awareness in Determinants of Health,” among other topics.
The lectures are ultimately meant to improve communications and rapport with patients, which has been shown to produce better patient adherence and favorable health outcomes.
“The current health disparities that exist in communities of color are largely due to infrastructural issues that also trickles down to the lack of cultural sensitivity training and accountability for physicians during clinical encounters,” Dr. Houston said. “The lecture series that I teach is designed to stimulate the lengthy process of increasing cultural awareness and inclusivity amongst students over time.”
In recent years, more people of color have been reconnecting to their long-standing heritage of alternative medicine that was not known to be alternative but traditional standards of care. As a result, there has been a growing awareness, desire, and acceptance to explore the benefits of what the United States has labeled as alternative medicine.
People of color can uniquely benefit from alternative medicine, too. According to Dr. Houston, the level of stress that people of color consistently endure due to social and racial inequities is a significant contributing factor to numerous diseases and coping mechanisms.
“Alternative medicine offers a wide variety of treatment modalities to help the body cope with stress while supporting the biochemical and physiological pathways to promote cellular regeneration,” Dr. Houston said. “This positions the body to thrive with minimal to no negative side effects during care, unlike the challenges they may experience with more conventional forms of treatment.”
In addition to the lecture series for ND students, Dr. Houston also teaches a combined lecture available to chiropractic students as part of the Fundamentals of Natural Medicine course on the topic, “Roots of African American Traditional Healing.” This lecture takes a brief historical look at the origin and purpose of natural medicine use among African Americans.
Dr. Houston is a licensed naturopathic physician, educator and author, who operates the Journey of Wellness Natural Medicine Center. She obtained her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from National University of Health Sciences, a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Pastoral Care & Counseling from Princeton Theological Seminary along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Howard University.