Hong Kong Baptist University
School of Communication
What training is necessary for health care providers to become effective intercultural communicators?
Since we have lived in a globalized world we need to be aware of the cultural diversity in the worldviews of other people. This is especially true in the health care. People from different cultures hold their own special beliefs about health care, illness and even about death. The ignorance of different cultural orientations of various groups in society may cause many misunderstandings between the health care providers, patients and their families. The health care organizations should try hard to provide their patients effective and respectful care that is compatible with their cultural health care beliefs (Like, 2011: 196-206). My essay is focused on those skills that are absolutely necessary for the health care providers to be able to work and communicate with the patients from different cultural backgrounds. First of all the term of cultural competence is explained. Another part of the essay deals with various health care beliefs and the third part focuses on the communication itself.
Cultural competence is now important for the health care policy makers, providers, educators etc. because of the need to improve a quality of patient service and also to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the health care (Betancourt, et al., 2005: 499-505). Nursing staff that is culturally competent has got the ability to understand cultural differences. They are “sensitive to issues related to culture, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Furthermore, culturally competent nurses have achieved efficacy in communication skills, cultural assessments, and knowledge acquisition related to health practices of different cultures” (Maier-Lorentz, 2008: 38). Being informed about different cultural perspectives of the patients is useful and necessary in many situations. It helps the health care providers to understand for example the process of patient´s decision making about a blood transfusion. Culturally competent nurse would know that Jehovah´s Witness cannot accept the blood transfusion because of his belief (Maier-Lorentz, 2008: 37-43). Cultural issues should be a part the curriculum of nursing schools. Students of medicine and nursing schools should be trained in cultural competence since the very beginning of their studies. There should be workshops that would enable them to try to solve these kinds of issues in practice before they face them in a real professional experience (Britt, 2010: 84-96).
Understanding of own culture
If the health care providers want to be really culturally competent, it is necessary to point out the importance of the knowledge and understanding of their own culture. Nursing staff must understand their own beliefs and attitudes first to know in which way their worldview is influenced by their own culture values. They should be also aware of the cultural bias that may arise from the worldview. Understanding the culture in which they were raised, decoding their worldview and being aware of the personal orientations will help the health care providers to avoid stereotyping (Samovar, et al., 2013: 340). Stereotyping and discrimination could jeopardize the ability of nursing staff to understand and accept cultural beliefs of their patients that differs with their own convictions. It is necessary to realize that to think for example that all Muslim women are subordinate to their husbands so the doctor should consult the woman´s health condition with her husband first is also a stereotype (Maier-Lorentz, 2008: 37-43).
Learning about different health care beliefs
Culture influences what meaning we give to the illness and health. The best way how to learn more about the health care beliefs and practices is to have experiences from different cultures. The...
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