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    Culturally Competent Health Care

    40 Pages | 8,211 Words

    This book describes culturally competent healthcare and what makes health care organizations and healthcare providers culturally competent. There is a continuing increase of diversity within the United States which affects health care providers and organizations. The main focuses of the book will be culturally competent health care, how healthcare providers use it, the various health programs that are culturally competent, as well as the models of cultural competence. Culturally competent healthcare is a continuing process for healthcare organizations and healthcare providers. With an increase in diversity, health care providers encounter, and must learn to manage differences in attitudes, and communication styles by patients. By reading this book one will be able to understand the important role of cultural competence in the health care environment and the various characteristics that make a healthcare provider culturally competent.

    This book is ideal for college level students in health management or health care administration, human services, health sciences, or any other field of health care.

    An Introduction to Culturally Competent Health Care

    Being culturally competent involves being culturally aware and sensitive to the various ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds of the patient population. It is important to realize that culture shapes an individual s thoughts, their experiences, perceptions, and decisions. It also influences the way individuals respond to health care and influences the way physicians provide health care. Health care providers, whether they are physicians, nurses, medical assistants, paramedics, speech pathologists, technicians, and so forth encounter people from different backgrounds daily. Therefore, understanding a patient s diverse cultural background that includes their values, beliefs, traditions, and history is important to eliminating racial/ethnic health care disparities and provide more quality patient care.


    A 78-year old elderly, Hispanic woman, Mrs. Rodriguez, visits the local health clinic concerning her aching back. As she sits in the examining room, Dr. Baker, a thirty-something African-American female, walks in and smiles, Hello, how are you?, I m Dr. Baker. Mrs. Rodriguez smiles nervously, and says Hola, muy bien. Dr. Baker nods her head and smile again. With Mrs. Rodriguez medical record in her hand, she glances through it and notices that this is her first visit to the doctor in over thirty years. Why is that? she asks herself. Dr. Baker looks up from the chart and observes how nervous Mrs. Rodriguez is.

    Dr. Baker smiles again, and while sitting down looks at Mrs. Rodriguez with concern. Mrs. Rodriguez, I understand that this is your first visit with a doctor in a very long time. Why is that, if you don t mind me asking?

    Mrs. Rodriguez, nervously rubbing her hands, and looking down at the ground, look at Dr. Baker and quietly explains, Si, tuve una mala experiencia. El medico no comprende mi problema. So no me gustas hospitales. She shakes her head and continues, Pero, me duele la espalda El medico. Por favor, Podrias ayudame? .

    Dr. Baker - whose parents were immigrants from Guyana - and having taken Spanish as her third language, understood Mrs. Rodriguez concerns, and said with compassion, Si, Mrs. Rodriguez, se comprendo. I will help you get better. Both of us will do this together. Mrs. Rodriguez exhales, and smiles with the assurance that this time, her experience with health care would be better.

    This scenario is a prime example of cultural competence as used by a health care provider. Cultural competence is an important asset in the health care system. It is more than just a health care provider diagnosing and treating patients. To attain cultural competence, health care providers should be made aware of the impact of social and cultural factors on health beliefs. They must also be equipped with the tools and skills to manage such factors through cultural competence training and education. In addition, providers must encourage their patients to be more active in their healthcare decisions, which is part of being culturally competent.

    Health care organizations can attain cultural competence through cross- cultural training programs as a requirement for the professional development of healthcare providers. Healthcare organizations can also educate patients on how to become a participant in their method of care. Overall, the ultimate goal of culturally competent healthcare is the ability to deliver the highest quality of care to every patient, regardless of race, ethnicity, cultural background, and language.