Indigenous cultural safety, cultural humility, and anti-racism

This resource helps explain how the College expects physicians and surgeons to incorporate Indigenous cultural safety, cultural humility, and anti-racism into their practice.

What to expect

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia is committed to your protection and safety.

The College has zero tolerance for racism and discrimination by physicians and surgeons. When physicians or surgeons provide medical care to Indigenous patients, they are expected to do so in a culturally safe and anti-racist way.

The College sets out its expectations for physicians and surgeons in its Indigenous Cultural Safety, Cultural Humility, and Anti-racism practice standard, which is organized into six core concepts.

Core concepts and principles

Physicians and surgeons must demonstrate cultural humility, which begins with reflection on their own their values, assumptions, beliefs, and privilege, and consideration of how this may impact the relationship they create with Indigenous patients. Cultural humility promotes relationships based on respect, open and effective dialogue, and mutual decision-making.

Physicians and surgeons must continually seek to improve their ability to provide culturally safe care for Indigenous patients. This includes undertaking ongoing education on Indigenous health care, determinants of health, cultural safety, cultural humility, and anti-racism.

Physicians and surgeons must take active steps to identify, address, prevent and eliminate Indigenous-specific racism. This includes taking appropriate action when they observe others acting in a racist or discriminatory way towards Indigenous Peoples and by reporting acts of racism.

Physicians and surgeons must create safe health-care encounters where Indigenous patients’ physical, mental/emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs can be met. This includes treating patients with respect and empathy by acknowledging cultural identity, seeking to understand a patient’s unique experiences, and incorporating Indigenous cultural rights, values, and practices such as ceremonies related to illness, birth, and death.

Physicians and surgeons must respectfully learn about Indigenous patients, and the reasons they have sought health-care services by engaging with patients and their identified supports to understand and address their health and wellness goals. This includes offering patients the necessary time and space for discussion and providing clear information about the health-care options available.

Physicians and surgeons must have knowledge about different types of trauma and the impact on Indigenous patients, including how intergenerational and historical trauma affects many Indigenous Peoples during health-care experiences. Physicians and surgeons are also expected to focus on the resilience and strength the patient brings to the health-care encounter.