September 5, 2013

Breaking Down Cultural Barriers in Healthcare

When traveling to other countries unlike your own, you know how important it is to study and understand their cultures ; in many cases, committing a cultural faux pas will be met with contempt and offense. For instance, it is illegal to chew gum in Singapore, so, after enjoying one of Singapore’s many signature dishes, opt for the mint instead. When shaking hands in Fiji, be prepared to hold hands with your new acquaintance for the entire duration of your conversation, and whatever you do, do not insult the king of Thailand, even in jest, unless you want to spend some serious time behind bars!

When traveling to different countries, adapting to their cultures and customs is expected, but what happens when you experience cultural barriers within your own country?

This is an issue that’s been affecting the world of healthcare for years because, when it comes to healthcare, cause, treatment, and even the definition of a “doctor” varies from culture to culture. In Vietnamese culture, for example, it is believed that hot and cold poles control bodily functions and that health is achieved when these poles are at harmony. And when making decisions with the family of an Asian/Pacific Islander patient, oftentimes, the oldest male is considered to be the spokesperson. And then, of course, within each culture, there are subcultures to understand, each of which might contain fundamental cultural differences.

It is incorrect, and unfair, to work under the assumption that other cultures might simply comply with all mainstream healthcare values. Doing so can lead to confusion, miscommunication, and, worse, mistrust, only further aggravating the cultural barrier.

To break cultural barriers and open the lines of communication, some healthcare organizations have been working to attract individuals from a more diverse range of ethnicities and economical backgrounds. In doing so, they hope to better understand and serve their patients, by better understanding differing cultures, values, and perspectives. All cultures have unique ways of practicing healthcare, and it’s important that healthcare leaders are properly equipped to best serve their patients’ social, cultural, and linguistic needs.

As a healthcare leader, by familiarizing yourself with your patients’ cultures and national backgrounds, paying close attention to their body language, and recognizing their emotions, you will be able to provide them the best service possible.

At Coors Healthcare Solutions, we are a diverse team, dedicated to offering our clients unparalleled customer service and custom solutions to meet their own unique needs. When it comes to physician placement, our clients’ needs are at the center of everything we do. When interim leaders are matched to the appropriate team, stronger leaders are built, and with that, comes stronger teams and a stronger healthcare system.

Our recruitment philosophy is about building synergistic, high functioning teams. We can build you a team that will drive success for you and your organization. Our interim services can bridge any gaps your team may be experiencing to avoid dysfunction. Let us partner with you to create the ideal team.

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