Healthcare professionals have varied views about what the term cultural diversity means and the actual purpose of cultural diversity training. They may believe that such training is initiated primarily to help them avoid professional and legal problems rather than improve patient care (Nisha et al 2007). Others are genuinely concerned about being culturally sensitive when working with patients and collaborating with colleagues. NPD practitioners know that the primary purposes of cultural diversity education are to improve:
Healthcare professional–patient communication
Healthcare professional–family communication
Communication among healthcare professionals
Patient and family outcomes
Cultural diversity education is also a requirement of some accrediting agencies. However, this is not the primary purpose of such education. Your cultural diversity programming should be practical and based on evidence that directs its design.
It is not easy to add more content to an orientation program. However, cultural awareness will help new employees to assimilate into the organization. Role play, discussion, and distance-learning techniques can all be used to provide basic information. Allow time for in-person discussion as well. Include information about how cultural differences manifest themselves in patients, visitors, and colleagues and present learners with scenarios that require them to make choices based on cultural appropriateness.
What topics should you include as part of diversity education?
It is not possible to include all aspects of multiple cultures in a diversity program. However, if cultural diversity is part of your competency program, you can regularly add material about aspects of various cultures.
The following is information to include in your initial training:
- How do members of this culture communicate? What significance do body language, gestures, tone of voice, and eye contact have? Which family members take the lead in communicating with people outside of their culture?
- What specific family/gender issues exist? What is the woman’s role? How are major decisions made?
- What role does religion play?
- How is pain expressed?
- What are common health practices (e.g., alternative medicine, herbal medicine, home
- remedies, etc.)?
- How do families deal with pregnancy and births?
- Is there a standard work ethic valued in the culture? How are specific occupations viewed
- in terms of respectability, financial need, and appropriateness?
- Are there dietary restrictions associated with this culture?
- Are there specific political beliefs that influence people of this culture?
- Are there specific conflicts between certain cultural groups that may surface within your organization?