A Literary Approach to Teaching Cultural Competence Academic Article uri icon


  • Cultural competence is a necessity in today's diverse society and an essential component of clinical practice. As an adjunct to other sources, literature can enrich teaching and sensitize students to cultural issues in health care. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a beautifully written and compelling story well suited for instructional purposes. Although widely recommended, nurses are largely ignored in this story of a Hmong family seeking medical care. The book describes how the health care system failed to provide adequate care to patients from a different cultural background despite providers' good intentions. Nurse educators can use structured discussion guides to synthesize literary accounts such as The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down with theory and research about cultural competence.

publication date

  • June 2000