As time goes by, United States becomes more culturally diverse. Now, the health care professionals will need to adapt with the cultural diversity. They need to be sensitive about the cultural needs of the client to be able to provide better services to the Hispanic communities.
One approach in meeting this attempt is to achieve cultural competency. Cultural competency enables the health care professionals to recognize and appreciate different cultures. It is defined as behaviors, attitudes, and policies that may ensure that an individual can work effectively in a diverse cultural setting. This helps people to respect cultural diversity, expand their knowledge and increase their sensitivity.
The nonmaterial and material products of human behavior are part of the culture which are shared in different ways. The rapidly increasing rate of cultural differences in United States serves as a challenge to the working health care professionals. Most problems reported by the professionals arise from poor knowledge in bilingual and lack of cultural competency. In order to render better services, cultural competency needs to be included in the curriculum. Also, all health care organizations must undergo training to be able to achieve such competency. Effective communicaion is vital to cultural competency.
It requires open-mindedness and willingness to explore other’s culture. Appropriate languages at the appropriate comprehension and literacy levels are important to provide culturally competent services to patients. Learning new languages and techniques to bridge communicaion gaps, openly responding to culturally based cues and interpreting the implications of symptoms as they are expressed by individuals from different cultures are the abilities of a culturally competent health care provider.
Almost 32 million in United States speak a different language other than English. That is why language becomes one of the major barriers because the health care providers need to make their best attempt to communicate with the patients. The federal government requires any health care provider who receives a federal funding from U.S Department of Health and Human Services to communicate with patients effectively or risk losing that money ( U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 2000.
“ Berry-Caban,C; Crespo,H”). Monolingual health care providers fnd it hard to work with clients. Even body language can also be misterpreted. For example the firm handshake in Anglo-American culture is a symbol of strong character, but in some native American groups, a limp hand is a symbol of humility and respect. Two people from these cultures will leave this encounter with completely inaccurate assessments of each other. ( Cross et al., 1989; Fadirman, 1997. “ Berry-Caban,C; Crespo,H” ).
The concept of culture enables us to recognize a particular pattern of living comprising with the health care needs and preferences of the society. These behaviors and knowledge lie at the core basis of health care in the U.S. In short, health care in United States is distinct from others because no other country has a culture just like the American way of life. This means that the culture of the health institution matches the American lifestyle.
People in U.S tend to seperate professional and personal identity. Communication style is depersonalized to achieve professionalism. Such communication style and views affect the way of thinking of the heath care providers. What explains the epidemiology of such illness or disease is an explanatory model.
If patients and health care providers’ ideas suffers about the structure and function of the body; such as causes of diseases being bacteria, virus, or the environment versus the “evil eye” or “ loss of soul “ or “ curses” it will be difficult to get patients to comply with treatment ( Fadiman, 1997; Harwood, 1977; Helman, 2007; Lopez & Carillo, 2001. “ Berry-Caban, C; Crespo, H” ).
Based on the article, United States is the most socially and racially diverse country. Almost 3 million are considered “ limited English proficient” and majority are Hispanic. Nearly 85% come from Latin America and the Caribbean. The way of living and kind of language affects the process of how patients access and respond to health care services. The manner of intepretation of these can either cause failure or success in responding to the needs of other.
Communicaion styles in America may vary depending upon the group that each represents. The population of the Hispanic and other cultural communities is rapidly growing. This fact is quiet alarming for the health care professionals because they need to be competent or else they will have to face the adverse consequences of delivering health services. But not all individuals value cultural diversity. Diversity produces new approaches to old practices and derive different beliefs from every traditions.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, America was recognized as a “melting pot” to describe the fusion of different nationalities, languages and cultures. According to J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, the individuals in America are melted into a race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Later on, multiculturalism came into view which states that cultural differences within society are valuable and should be respected and preserved.
These facts and principles show the history behind cultural diversity. Even before it existed and will continously grow in the future. We should consider this as a challenge rather than a problem. It only needs one cup of willingness to adapt and a pouch of respect to make up a new melting pot of acceptance to cultural diversity.
Berry-Caban, C, Crespo, H. (2008). Cultural Competency as a Skill for Health Care Providers. Hispanic Health Care International ( Vol. 6 No. 3 ). Springer Publishing Company.