The healthcare industry is made up of diverse groups of people in need of care. Whether you are planning to become the treating physician assistant, nurse, nutritionist, occupational therapist, or exercise trainer, you are sure to meet people who are a different race from you, speak a language different from yours and have a background different from yours. Yet, no matter the differences, the goal of health professionals is to make sure every patient or client get the best care and treatment they deserve. Practicing cultural sensitivity can help you learn how to best work with others different you. You can begin practicing now with your classmates and communities. Here are 5 tips to help you get started as courtesy from MedBridgeEducation.
- Understand and check your own biases.
Everyone looks at others through their own lens of experiences, upbringing, and belief systems. These aspects of your personal history can play a role in developing and projecting unintentional biases. Becoming aware of your biases and respecting differences is the first step in creating a safe zone. Introspection first!
- Check if you are labeling things as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
What is good for one may not be suitable for another. You need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you there to label someone’s choices as ‘good or bad?’
- Are you equipped with skills that allow you to do so?
- Avoid personal questions that are not relevant to the services being provided.
Personal questions can make a client uncomfortable. They may not want to entertain personal questions. While some questions of a personal nature are necessary for appropriate treatment, it is vital to obtain the patient’s permission before bombarding them with these types of potentially upsetting questions.
- Avoid sharing personal views, opinions, or beliefs if they are not relevant to the service being provided.
Keep your communication relevant to the domain of the services as much as possible.
- Try to allow more ‘mental space’ for clients to think and make decisions regarding the clinical choices you have offered.
If someone needs time to think, they should be allowed some space to take their time. This may mean allowing additional time during your appointments. Remember learning to work with different groups effectively takes learning, openness, and most importantly, time. Do not rush or be hard on yourself. Take the time to learn and practice these things. In doing so, you will become the quality healthcare professional you hope to be.