Minor in Religious-Cultural Literacy for Healthcare Professions


The online Minor in Religious-Cultural Literacy for Healthcare Professions (RCL) prepares future healthcare workers with cultural competence in religious diversity. Through a low-credit program of five online courses, the RCL minor can supplement any of the numerous health-related major programs offered at Radford University and Radford University Carilion, and provides all Highlanders the opportunity to apply cultural knowledge about religions in practical professional settings.

This program fulfills the REAL Curriculum "E" area in Humanistic or Artistic Expression.

Why Religious-Cultural Literacy for Healthcare?

Religion matters for healthcare, for patients and providers alike. Habits and perceptions of well-being, understadnings of the body, and cultural norms about illness and healing all are deeply impacted by religion. This makes literacy about religion and health a distinct component of cultural competence and a key knowledge area for healthcare professionals.

However, clinical workplace trainings typically give little attention to religious factors, focusing instead on factors of racial perception, ethnicity, physical ability, and gender and sexuality. At most, healthcare systems currently educate their employees with checklists of religion-specific guidelines for provider-patient interactions. This approach provides little depth of cultural understanding of religion and worldview to improve patient experiences and care delivery. True cultural competence needs to account for religious diversity.

Radford University's minor in Religious-Cultural Literacy for Healthcare Professions addresses the knowledge-and-skill gap concerning religious differences by focusing on the healthcare sector in multiple religious, social, and cultural contexts. Through excellent educational experiences about religious diversity and healthcare, the RCL minor will improve your cultural competence as you prepare to enter the healthcare workforce. As a graduate of this program, you will begin your healthcare career with an enhanced understanding of religion's role in your patients' experiences and expectations of care, in your own experiences and expectations, and in religion's influence on the healthcare system overall.

What Will I Learn?

The RCL minor educates future and current healthcare professionals in four key areas:

  1. foundational information about religion and understandings of health; 
  2. the relevance of religious information to healthcare and medicine; 
  3. methods for interacting with diverse religious populations in clinical and administrative settings; and 
  4. critical reflection on religion’s role in the organization, delivery, and management of healthcare.

To learn more about the RCL minor, get in touch with our department chair or visit us in CHBS 4202

During the period of alternate campus operations for COVID-19, we ask that you schedule an appointment before stopping by the office in person, so we can be sure that the office is staffed to help you. We can also meet via Zoom or phone call to answer any questions.


The minor in Religious-Cultural Literacy for Healthcare Professions consists of 15 semester hours of courses as outlined below:

Foundation course (3 credits) 

  • RELN 112: Survey of World Religions (offered in an online section focused on concepts of health, medicine, and the body in world religions)

Religion-and-Healthcare topics courses (9 credits) 

  • RELN 212: Historical Perspectives on Healthcare and Religion 
  • RELN 213: Healthcare and the American Religious Landscape 
  • RELN 381: Religion and Experiences of Illness and Dying 

Capstone Course in Professional Field (3 credits) 

  • HSCI 499: Health Sciences Topics; or RELN 420 Religious Studies Topics (when topically appropriate); or RELN 490: Internship.


Our religious studies faculty come from diverse backgrounds, have diverse interestes, and are internationally recognized in their areas of specialization.