The statistics are alarming. The Center for Disease Control (2006) reports that an African American child is 2.5 times more likely to suffer from infant mortality than a white child and the rate is rising. Hispanics and African Americans have a rate of Diabetes that is double that of non-Hispanic whites…
As a compliment to that effort, we need to address our state grants to achieve that goal. Our higher educational institutions need to address this problem by establishing new educational programs, increasing cultural competence, and recruiting for diversity.
Health care cultural competency begins with communication. Communication is more than simply knowing the language. Health seeking behaviors are affected by cultural mores and University cultural educational programs should focus on acquiring skills that can elicit the patient's response and define the illness and treatment within their social context (Kirpalani et al. 2006 p.1116). This should also be applied to patients who have limited literacy as these patients usually have less awareness of disease management (Frist 2005 p.447). A grant to establish a course curriculum in diversity communication is a necessary first step to reducing the disparity in the health of our citizens. These skills moderate the patient's participation in medical decisions and treatment.
Communication is more than simply learning the language and the medical terminology. Communication must be culture based. University educational programs that address cultural sensitivity to assure that the caregiver is adequately communicating within the patient's cultural context are imperative. Grants are required to establish a curriculum that would relate the attitudes that ethnic populations may have in respect to illness, medicine, and surgery. Failure to understand the cultural context of minority medicine can result in a perception of insensitivity. A patient who feels like they are being treated unfairly will be less prone to seek treatment. A course in cultural communication could alleviate many communication problems.
Grants should also be directed towards diseases that have been identified as minority prevalent. The addition of a University course relating the strategies designed to reduce risk among minority populations is needed. Cardiovascular disease in the Arabic and Farsi speaking communities and Sickle-cell disease among African-Americans are two examples. Because studies have indicated that genetics are involved in some health related issues between racial and ethnic groups, training that focuses on recognition of the problem is essential (McBride 2005 p. 181). By recognizing ethnic trends in disease prevalence, caregivers can design programs for early intervention and develop appropriate pharmaceutical requirements.
Medical school should also include training on the appropriate handling of the issue of death and dying within different cultures. Knowing the role of privacy and the perception of bad news can prolong patient survival. According to Misra-Hebert (2003), "People in many cultures believe that informing the patient of a terminal diagnosis may hasten death" (p.298). A cultural sensitivity to this issue would also include an awareness of the cultural issues that surround the care of the dying as well as the expression of grief. University medical schools require grants to initiate a curriculum that addresses death and dying in diverse cultures. Adequate cultural competency would necessitate the inclusion of the awareness of this issue.
State grants should also ...
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