Medical Spanish: Talking Cultural Competency in Healthcare

Talking About Cultural Competency in Healthcare

This Medical Spanish lesson focuses on cultural competency in healthcare with your Spanish speaking patients. Many people are concerned about the idea of cultural “competency” because it implies that you can learn and gain mastery of individual’s dynamic perspectives. Others have concerns that teaching culture leads to generalizing and stereotyping.

Our approach is a little more focused on helping your patients navigate healthcare system here in the USA, within the USA’s culture of healthcare. Our goal is to help your patients fend for themselves and achieve good health outcomes.

Here is the Cultural Competency in healthcare lesson I taught to the Facebook group:

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Culture affects communication. Culture is the underlying context that affects everything you do with other people Talking and interacting with others takes more than linguistic communication – it requires an understanding that the other person may have a different sense of what is “normal” or “appropriate” in a given context.

Here is a 5-Step Framework that works well connect with patients of other cultures, honor their individuality, and help them achieve healthy outcomes in the mainstream healthcare culture of the United States:

  1. Realize

  2. Accept

  3. Learn

  4. Implement

  5. Assess with purpose.

1. Realize:

Realize that you have acquired perspectives: You have a way of viewing, thinking, and believing that is shaped based on your personal experiences. Based on the totality of experiences (yours, mine, theirs, etc.), you have acquired perspectives, and you’ve interpreted those experiences through the lens of your knowledge and your beliefs.

What culture is?

  • What you think
  • What you feel
  • What you value
  • What you do and what you don’t do
  • How you behave

All of this based on human influences around you.

2. Accept:

Accept that others “outside” of your group also think, feel, believe, value and, behave different than you based on the totality of their experiences and their group influences.

3. Learn:

Learn about others from different groups. The best you can do is trying to experience other cultures and other beliefs because you take academic knowledge and move it into real experiences getting a different impact on you.

What to learn from other groups?

  • Different perpectives
  • Underlying beliefs
  • Acceptable and unacceptable behaviors

Getting this knowledge, you’ll be able to start learning how to navigate across other cultures.

4. Implementation:

Risks about implementation: 

  • Generalizing based on some knowledge that you have or some experiences that you have with others
  • Stereotyping
  • Unintentional racism

Safer Path:

  • Individual inquiry: getting to know the person with you work with, instead of seeing them and applying some preconceived notions about them
  • Patient-centered care: getting to know what they value, asess their perspectives and understand the implications of their perspectives on the desired health outcomes that you are working on.
  • Honor your patients’ beliefs and share a path to wellness

5. Assess variations with purpose:

  • Asses your patients’ beliefs and your beliefs and see how their differ. Purpose: Adjust your interactions and your communication with your patients to maximize health outcomes.
  • Understand what the patients’ normal approach is to accessing care versus what your system has set up as the normal approach to accessing care. Purpose: To help your patient navigate care with you in the most effective way.
  • Systemic variations: the goal is how can you help your patient navigate or access care for themselves? what kind of tips or hacks you have for your patient to help them to advocate for themselves effectively.

Keep up the good work speaking responsible Spanish to your patients! Check out our other books, classes & products to help you learn medical Spanish!

Related Lesson:Why We Teach Medical Spanish

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