Short reports

Experiential learning outside the comfort zone: Taking medical students to downtown Durban, South Africa

Neil Prose, Paula Diab, Margaret Matthews


Introduction. The ability to communicate across cultures requires a combination of knowledge, skills and attitude. Our current medical school curriculum includes innovative methods of teaching communicative knowledge and skills. Our aim is to encourage students to examine their attitudes toward patients from social groups and cultures other than their own and, ultimately, to interact with empathy in a multicultural society. 

Method. An experiential learning technique where students were given various tasks intended to improve their attitude towards cross-cultural learning. 

Results. A number of students expressed appreciation at being in a multicultural group, having a shared experience, and engaging in open and respectful discussion about similarities and differences. 

Conclusion. Students need to be involved in activities that encourage them to examine their attitudes and develop respect for patients from cultures other than their own. We suggest ways in which learning experiences of this type can be integrated within the medical undergraduate programme.

Authors' affiliations

Neil Prose, Department of Pediatrics and Dermatology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA

Paula Diab, Department of Rural Health, School of Nursing & Public Health, Nelson R Mandela School of medicine,University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Margaret Matthews, School of Clinical Medicine, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Full Text



cross-cultural education; experiential learning; community engagement

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2013;5(2):98-99. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.256

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-03-11
Date published: 2013-10-28

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