Cultural Diversity in the Healthcare Field

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Cultural Diversity in the Healthcare field

The Many Faces of Healthcare
Cultural Diversity in the Healthcare Field Carl Hooks
Rasmussen College

Author Note
This research is being submitted on September 16, 2010, for Vicky Philips English class at Rasmussen College by Carl Hooks

Cultural diversity in the medical field is, at times, greatly hindered because of religious beliefs, language barriers, and the hierarchies of diverse cultures and these have the propensity to affect the continuity of care for the patients. “Every person has different aspects that constitute their identities, according to how they see themselves….This means that seeing an individual in terms of their identity can be unproductive.” (Weaver, 2009). Nursing personnel, in particular, have to take into consideration any and all cultural differences between the patient and the nursing staff. These differences vary in as many ways as there are different ethnic groups in any particular area. Religious beliefs can hinder the nursing care of patients. There are many different religious beliefs in as many different religions. The religious belief most common in the United States, of course, is the Jehovah Witness who refuses transfusions. This religion has a strong belief in preserving the soul before the body. Other religions have other beliefs that we may not understand, but need to respect and try to work around to care for the patient. “If people believe it is God who confers both health and illness, it may be very difficult to get them to take their medication or change their behavior….they would see no point worrying about high blood pressure or bacteria when moral behavior is the key to good health.” (Galanti, 2001). This kind of belief will impede the medical staff and their approach to a medical cure. Whenever possible, staff should attempt of incorporate both religious beliefs and medicine to care for the patient. For the most part (miracles do happen), religious beliefs can delay the care and health of the patient, and leaves the health professionals with a huge dilemma about what to do, and greatly delays the healing process.

To understand how religion plays a role in the care given to the patient is to give better care for our patients. Consequently, the vast majority of people do believe in some sort of religion, whether it is God or some other higher power. “Cultural factors stemming from religious beliefs and practices can have an intense impact on health.” (Abdoul and Abdoul, 2010). There may come a time when the medical staff has to provide a towel (prayer matt) and a quiet place to pray to a culture that does not consider the common hospital chapel an appropriate place to pray. In some religious, “It is commonly believed that illness is sent from God as retribution for sins since God is viewed as the afflicter as well as healer.” (Abdoul and Abloul,2010). Food also plays a big part in some religions which go beyond the traditional Jewish mother’s chicken soup. “….it is important to know that religious beliefs and practices can influence food choice, as there may be individuals within a group that observe strict dietary requirements.” (Black, 2010). All religious back grounds should be taken into consideration and, whenever possible, be provided for, and this will aid in promoting effective health care.

Language barriers pose great difficulties when communicating with patients. It is imperative that both patient and nursing staff understand exactly what is being said. For this reason an appropriate trained or certified interpreter should be utilized whenever possible. Health care workers are experiencing more language difficulties than ever before. “Fully 54 million Americans….roughly 20 percent of the population….do not speak English at home.” (Armand and Hubbard,2010). With the exception of California, Texas, and Florida, which have over 43...
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