Cultural Competency in Public Administration



Rice’s (2007) article “A post-modern cultural competency framework for public administration and public service delivery” is an example of an academic essay. It illustrates many of the conventions of academic writing that will be expected of you as writers in the MPA program. Read the article in its entirety, and write a 3-4 page essay based on the article and the case study scenario described below:

“The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a public healthcare system comprised of a network of public hospitals, neighborhood and health centers, nursing homes and home care in New York City. John, a transgender man, arrived to his scheduled routine doctor appointment at Hospital MPA. When the doctor entered the room for the routine visit andJohn was transgender, the doctor immediately referred John to the psychiatric department of the hospital. New York City estimates about 75% of LGBT patients delay routine doctor visits and compromise preventative care due to their fear of discrimination and rejection from healthcare providers.”

The purpose of your essay will be to demonstrate your understanding of key ideas from Rice’s article and their PRACTICAL APPLICATION. Please address the following points:

1. In his article, Rice reviews various definitions of cultural competency. Of these various definitions, which ones are most relevant to this specific scenario?
2. Specify two actions mentioned in Rice’s article that should be implemented to improve cultural competency at Hospital MPA. Be sure to cite and discuss passages from the article to support this course of action, and defend how implementation would strengthen cultural competency.
3. Conclude by summarizing Rice’s rationale for dedicating hospital time and resources to cultural competency. Do you find his rationale persuasive? 

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Cultural Competency in Public Administration and Public Service Delivery

In the past, being part of the LGBT community was something that was frowned upon. This situation has changed significantly over time as different laws have come up in support of LGBT people. However, some individuals as well as groups of people continue to be against it. This is seen in the case of John, an LGBT patient that was automatically referred to the psychiatric department by the doctor when he went for a routine check at Hospital MPA. Such cases are very common in healthcare and public administration at large. Mitchell Rice wrote the article to address the ways in which one can achieve cultural competency in a world full of diversity.


In order to address cultural competency in public administration, one has to first understand its definition in all its entirety. In the case of the LGBT patient, however, one definition particularly stood out from the reviews presented by Rice in his article. Bush defined cultural competency as the respect and understanding of the diversity of the ethnicity and cultural groups as well as their beliefs, histories, traditions and value systems while providing or delivering a service to an individual (Rice, 2007). Similarly, Brach and Fraser think of cultural competency as the process of making a commitment to the policies and practices of all the diverse populations (Rice, 2007). The underlying concept from all the definitions that are reviewed is that there are two dimensions to cultural competency; surface structure and deep structure.

From the case study, it is clear that Hospital MPA clearly lacks or has a very low cultural competency level. In part, the reason as to why the attending doctor referred John to the psychiatric department instead of carrying on with his routine checkup could be that they were not taught on cultural competency or how to implement it in public service delivery. Therefore, in order to improve cultural competency at the hospital, it is imperative that the management introduce a program that teaches all its staff on the role cultural competency plays in the delivery of public service as well as public administration.


Teaching cultural competency will not only make sure that all the graduates at the education facilities are more open minded and as such can treat the minorities in a humane way and a way that they will be happy about (Rice, 2007). However, it is not enough to introduce the program to educational and professional institutions, the program has to be considered mandatory. Making it optional will undoubtedly create a situation where only a section of the population is culturally competent while the rest are simply ignorant. According to Rice, teaching cultural competency has a positive correlation to the practice of the same. Requiring that all the doctors at Hospital MPA be taught on cultural competency and its application in public service delivery and public administration will ensure that such cases as the one mentioned are avoided at all costs.

Additionally, creating an organizational self-assessment tool that incorporates cultural diversity, organizational culture and mission statements will go a long way in improving cultural competency at Hospital MPA (Rice, 2007). Before creating the self-assessment tool, the hospital has to ensure that its goal, mission and visionembrace cultural diversity, cultural competence and cultural proficiency. Having all these in writing will ensure that all the staff at Hospital MPA work towards achieving the organizational goal of being culturally competent in public service delivery. This will in turn be reinforced by completing the self-assessment tool that will help determine the individuals that are slacking or those that need more training and practice on the issue at hand.

According to Rice (2007), the self-assessment tool will function as a form of cultural edit. For this reason, different questions regarding cultural diversity have to be addressed. Some of the questions include the extent to which the personnel understand the culture, cultural concerns, language assistance as well as the staff representation of its patients. Despite this, the self-assessment tool can involve other aspects of leadership such as governance, policy development and personnel practices. The wider the scope of the assessment tool, the greater the chances of revolutionizing the hospital to provide quality and competent healthcare services to all its patients.

In his research, Mitchell Rice found that 30% of the US population is made up of the minorities (Rice, 2007). The minorities in this case include Asian Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans among others. This statistic automatically qualifies cultural diversity as a demographic reality in the U.S. Looking at diversity, Rice could not help but wonder why it puts strain on public service delivery, and this led him to conclude that dedicating hospital resources and time greatly contributes to improvement in cultural competency (2007). His rationale is particularly persuasive as it makes it hospital responsible for the kind of service it offers and delivers. All in all, Rice offers an exquisite framework for the development and implementation of cultural competency in the areas of public service delivery as well as public administration in general.


Rice, M. F. (2007). A post-modern cultural competency framework for public administration and public service delivery. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 20(7), 622-637.

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