Cultural Competence

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Zhang, Bin

Lauren Arenson Ph.D.

Humanities 2 Medical Anthropology

21Jan2013

Importance of Understanding Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is not a new concept for me because I have been working

as a phlebotomist at the hospital since 2008. As a phlebotomist, obviously my main

role is to interact with different people to withdraw blood sample by venipuncture.

Even I was trained to be a professional, polite, and cultural understanding health care

provider, I still feel that it's so difficult to talk with certain patients, especial dealing

with patient who has little English background. Sometimes they get offended easily if

I unintentionally pronounce their name wrong . I had no choices but to ask my

superiors to apologize to the patients for me . After I took cultural competence

self-assessment test yesterday, I realized that I didn't grasp the full meaning of the

notion culture competence. There are still some areas I need to improve in order to

provide best patient care and avoid conflicts at the hospital.

First area of cultural competence I need to work on is my communication styles.

Sometimes I ignore the patients who has limited ability to speak English. As a routine

procedure, I usually collect the paper that patient was asked to sign and briefly

explain the procedure because I expect they already know everything. As I read first

chapter of Galanti's book, I know why sometimes the patients would give me a bad

attitude, they may have no ideas what the paper they signed is about and may need

an interpreter. Instead of explaining the procedure slowly and elaborately, I just

assumed they had already known everything.

Second area of cultural competence I need to improve is to understand the

meaning of egalitarianism and to avoid stereotyping patients. As a phlebotomist, I

believe that best way to find out the cause of an illness is through analysis of

abnormal blood cells. Galanti told me that not everyone share the same belief. They

may have their own way to treat an illness, like asking a shaman or praying to the

God. My goal as a health care provider is not argue with patients to decide who has a

better treatment technique, but to help them get well, so the patients would have the

best experience while treating in the hospital.

As I read through Galanti's book, I am very interested in Chinese Yin Yang

theory because I was dominated by Chinese traditions when I grew up. Author

Galanti suggest me that I should understand my own culture and bias in order to

appreciate cultural difference. Since I was a kid, I had been a testing material of Yin

Yang by my parents. For example, I had been told that the quality of my body was

cold, I could not eat cold food like ice creams and food that are high in sugar and fat.

Instead I had to eat healthy food such as vegetables, rice and fruits to neutralize my

"cold" body. My parents...
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