America is a melting pot and for health care providers navigating through different cultures while trying to provide quality health care can be a challenge. You don’t want to offend a patient nor do you want participate in something that goes against your personal beliefs. Everything from making eye contact with a patient to how decisions are made can vary a great deal within different cultures. Often we forget the impact of different cultures on health care. There are ways to help with patient interactions when it comes to different cultures.
Here are three ways to have better patient interactions involving different cultures:
Asking for Clarification
If you have any doubts about how you should proceed then your safest option is to ask. There are cultural and religious practices that you may not even be aware of during your initial assessment. Many people from different cultures within the United States live in a community that filled with people from their own culture, they are used to educating health professionals on how they would like their care delivered. All you have to do is let them know that you are willing to learn.
As caregivers you need to be aware of your own personal biases and cultural beliefs. This allows for anyone in the health care field identify and put a stop to things like oppression, discrimination, racism and harmful stereotypes. While you may judge someone else’s practices as primitive or superstitious, within that culture these rituals may have a deep cultural or symbolic meaning.
Promoting healing starts with accepting patients as they are, complexities and all. Through the act of accepting a patient and their cultural beliefs you are allowing the patient to feel empowered during a time of personal crisis. Patients need to know that medical staff is invested in their well-being and that allows them to speak about symptoms, how they have dealt with them. Patients and caregivers can go forward to choose the path of medical treatment.
As we go forward in the health care industry there is a growing trend that gives patients more involvement and ultimately more choices in their own health care practices. Being aware of other cultures and their practices is more than just an emergency room encounter it is also providing ongoing care at the family physicians office. Through deliberate awareness and respect of other cultures and beliefs the health care providers can give superior care to each and every patient they deal with.