This paper is concerned with the way in which discussions of the health status of people from minority ethnic groups and the delivery of health care to such groups has been constructed, in the nursing literature in particular, within a culturalist framework which has many serious drawbacks The paper reviews the argument for a ‘multicultural’ approach to health care and also discusses some of the main implications of this analysis for the education of health professionals It suggests that health workers and those responsible for the education of such workers, need to reassess learning needs in the light of a critique of the effects of an analysis based on ‘cultural pluralism’ and ‘ethnic sensitivity’ The paper suggests ways in which the nursing curriculum must be broadened to take into account the limitations of a culturalist approach and to debate the interplay of racism and other structures of inequality and their influence on health and on service delivery