Cultural Assessment of a Korean American
Culture includes the customs, traditions, ideas, and ways of interacting with the environment that often differ in various parts of the world. Over the last several decades in the U.S. there has been a growing awareness and tolerance of cultures other than the traditional western culture in the community. And in healthcare we are expected to provide all patients and families with the same respect and treatment, but at the same time provide individualized care. In order to meet these standards the work place environment has responded with training and education on cultural competence. The term cultural competence can be defined by the ability to respect and understand the beliefs and attitudes of another without imposing your own ideas. With this knowledge it is hoped that it will allow for a more individualized plan of care, patient compliance, and therefore, a better outcome for the patient and healthcare team (Seidel et al, 2010). On October 9, 2012 M.S. consented to participation in an interview to share some of the basics of her culture, and as a healthcare provider herself, she shared how they differ from the more predominant views in Memphis, TN. M.S. is a 38 year old female who was born and raised in South Korea. She immigrated to the U.S. when she married a Korean American U.S. Air Force pilot 12 years ago. She is a Registered Nurse that was educated here in the U.S. and has two children ages 8 and 11. M.S. was helpful in describing the normal traditions of her culture, as well as pointing out that according to tradition of her culture she does not fit the norm in many aspects. Health Beliefs and Practices
Health and Illness. When discussing health beliefs and practices I found that many of the topics we discussed I was already aware of being part of the Asian culture. However, by talking with a person from that ethnicity she was able to expound on those differences that I was aware of and also describe some other beliefs that I was unaware of. With the growing popularity in the U.S. of many oriental influences on health, some of the Korean culture ideas are not as foreign as they may have been even a decade ago. M.S. stated that many Koreans prefer oriental medicine over the western health care as a whole. She also described health in general as being related to the balance of the yin and the yang with illness being caused by an interruption of the flow of energy, blood, and spiritual being. M.S. pointed out that many of the Korean immigrants that are more traditional will seek the professional opinion of a Korean physician, of the same gender as the patient, if one is available. However, more often than not one is not available, which M.S. said leads to many patients self-diagnosing and then sending for oriental medicine from friends or family back overseas. M.S. also pointed out that many oriental medications are herbs and are aimed at only controlling symptoms not the illness itself, and frequently practices such as acupuncture, herbs, and cupping are used to promote healing. She also stated that the more traditional Korean will be more likely to believe their family or the church on the subject of their illness instead of a physician. Attitudes and Beliefs. M.S. made a strong reference to the fact that it is highly important in the Korean culture for an individual to maintain a stoic attitude at all times during illness and other stressors. Due to this belief it is not surprising that illness is believed to also be caused by a failure to keep their emotions from being expressed openly. She noted that this is specifically a reason of illness that many women claim upon themselves. M.S. also added that another belief of illness is that it can fall upon a person if they fail to pray often, or if their ancestors are displeased with them. M.S. also added to this that the Korean culture places a strong value on the respect their elders and ancestors....
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