As the world continues to become more interconnected, people may find themselves in a melting pot of different cultures and populations. Although this is a thing to be celebrated, the variety of cultural identities surrounding a person can become overwhelming especially if everyone has a different perspective or worldview. According to research, exposure to different identities can affect a person’s psychology and how they respond to their surroundings.
Diversity in Healthcare
In the context of health care, it is more difficult for people to be open when they are surrounded by professionals who don’t understand their cultural identity and beliefs. There is always a fear of being judged, not understood, or not heard. To remedy this, you need to keep in mind that diversity is a key component of compassionate care.
To meet the growing diversity of their patients, health institutions need to double their effort in hiring healthcare workers who provide culturally competent service.
How do you know if your staff fits the description you’re looking for? The following are three examples of qualities and behaviors of a culturally competent healthcare provider.
- They understand their patients. Barriers like a difference in language are treated not as added difficulty to the job or fault of a patient but rather just as an issue that needs to be resolved.
- Your staff knows how to respect different backgrounds. Past experiences of their patients don’t affect the quality of their services at all. They put in an effort to recognize any unconscious biases they have so that they can prevent them from affecting their work inside the hospital or clinic.
- They have cultural knowledge that leads them to a more empathic approach when giving care. They are also willing to learn more about different cultures to widen their ideas about the diverse people they meet.
These types of culturally open health care providers is needed in your company because they don’t only offer quality work but they can also improve patient safety and lessen patient turnover rate.
Reasons Why Diversity is a Key Component of Compassionate Care
To discuss the role of diversity, we need to first understand what “compassionate care” is.
As described in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, compassion is the understanding, recognition, and emotional resonance of a person with a different individual’s pain or distress.¹
Healthcare providers dedicate more time and understanding to their patients when giving compassionate care. It also involves creating a welcoming environment where patients feel comfortable sharing their feelings and championing their own well-being.
To accommodate patients, your workforce needs to be aware of the different cultural, ethical, and social backgrounds they may belong to.
The best way to ensure that your people are ready to meet diverse patients with compassion is to diversify your health care teams as well.
Improves overall patient care and outcomes
A diverse group of healthcare providers increases the likelihood of all patients being heard and understood. Studies show that people have the tendency to open up about their health conditions to those who have the same ethnicity or background.
When patients see that their healthcare providers look like them and hear they have gone through similar experiences, they are more likely to feel comfortable and safe.
For example, a paper published in American Economic Review revealed that African-American patients were more likely to share their health issues with African-American doctors. The said healthcare professionals were also found to take better notes for African-American patients when compared to the notes made by doctors of different ethnicity.²
Other studies suggest the same thing. To be more specific, patients who receive care from healthcare providers with the same background have higher rates of being given preventive screenings and more accurate prescriptions for managing chronic conditions.
Increased sensitivity and cultural competency
If your healthcare staff comes from different backgrounds, the more likely that they will have the ability to effectively interact with people from different cultures.
Diversity of patients equates to people having different cultural beliefs and practices that can affect how they want to be treated. Being sensitive to these differences, respecting them, and taking them into consideration when giving care are crucial steps to providing compassionate care.
An example would be individuals from Asian countries that often rely on herbal medicine to cure sickness. A diverse healthcare workforce will show more sensitivity and cultural competence and be open to hearing about these herbal concoctions without judgment. Some of your staff may even be aware of the shared practice based on their experiences.
Since some herbs are harmful when taken with specific medicine, knowing and learning about the cultural practice of herbal medications and other home remedies is important to give proper care.
According to Dr. Luz Claudio, a professor of environmental medicine and public health, having a diverse community of medical professionals can improve the quality of health care for everyone who needs to improve their health. It can nurture an environment where patients feel safe to share part of their cultural identity that affects their wellbeing.
Better quality of life and satisfaction for both patients and healthcare workers
As found in a research paper published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM), high-quality compassionate care positively affects the opinions of patients regarding the services they receive and their quality of life.³
Patients who are cared for with compassion feel more valued and understood by their healthcare provider. These feelings reduce negative emotions that can ultimately affect their physical and mental health.
To build a compassionate team, it’s important to have people with diverse backgrounds and experiences so that they can easily relate to patients. They can create an environment where cultural barriers don’t exist.
Diversity inside the medical institution does not only affect patients but professionals too. An article published in World Health discussed how a diverse healthcare workforce gives staff a sense of belonging no matter what their ethnicity may be. This encourages them to stay within the company and work well with the people surrounding them.
Overall, if patients are open to discussing their health and listening to medical solutions from a diverse team of medical professionals, they can obtain a better quality of life. And if patients are healthier and happier, healthcare staff are more likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled with their jobs.
HEALTHCARE LEADERS SHOULD BE AT THE HELM AND WITH PRS GLOBAL, THEY’RE SURE TO GET DIVERSE STAFFING
Here at PRS Global, we work our best to connect you with world-class healthcare talent. Instead of simply filling the roles in your company, we find the best professional team that can offer your clients the best quality of work.
We understand your needs and the critical role you play in the lives of people. Together, let’s help create a diverse workforce fit to service your diverse patients.
Contact us today to start a conversation!
1 American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “Compassionate Care” 5B Trailblazing Innovation, April 2023, https://www.aacnnursing.org/5B-Tool-Kit/Themes/Compassionate-Care#:~:text=Within%20the%20healthcare%20community%2C%20compassion,%E2%80%9D%20(Lown%2C%202016).
2 Alsan et al. “Does Diversity Matter for Health? Experimental Evidence from Oakland” American Economic Association, Dec. 2019, https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20181446
3 Al Yahyaei et al. “Nurses’ intention to stay in the work environment in acute healthcare: a systematic review” Journal of Reseach in Nursing, June 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9272506/