Lauren Arenson Ph.D.
Humanities 2 Medical Anthropology
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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