As healthcare professionals, we do not get to pick and choose who comes to us for services. We do, however, hold the power to either keep people coming back or having them go elsewhere. When people are treated with respect and kindness, they will want to return to the place that offered those things. When they are treated like cattle and just pushed and pulled through the healthcare systems, they will likely run in the other direction and avoid healthcare altogether.
Most people think that diversity involves making people from other countries feel comfortable in our country. That is only a teeny, tiny part of the picture. Take, for example, an American who was born in the U.S. and grew up in a mostly Asian neighborhood. Then take another person, American born, who grew up in an Italian neighborhood. The Asian neighborhood was likely more quiet and reserved than the Italian neighborhood, where screaming is thought of as normal conversation. Are these two people going to look at life the same way? Probably not.
What about the homeless culture that is unique unto itself? What about the prison population? What about the refugees trying to avoid genocide in their homelands? Are their needs and perceptions going to be different? Yes, they are.
This text is probably one of the most complete, comprehensive books about diversity as it applies to healthcare available. Let’s face facts; everyone is probably going to have to seek medical treatment at some point in their lives. It is up to us, as healthcare providers, to make these people feel comfortable and welcome enough for them to continue that care.
There are all kinds of superstitions and beliefs about medicine that have been ingrained in people since the beginning of time. When a client is adamant about not having surgery until the full moon for fear of angering the ancestors, it is not our call to make them feel like their beliefs are unfounded. It is our call to collaborate and come up with viable solutions so that they can get what they need without feeling judged or fearful.
Our world is like a cake. All of the cultures are the ingredients for that cake. It takes these ingredients, blended together, to make that cake be moist, beautiful, and delectable.. If we only had one ingredient, like flour, it would not be much of a cake. If we only had one culture, what would we miss out on? Music? Sports? Fashion? Dance?
The more diverse and welcoming you make your business to everyone, there is a high likelihood that people will want to use your services time and again. This is extraordinarily important for us in healthcare. Just think; your approach of kindness and understanding will very likely save lives and enhance the quality of peoples’ lives. After all, isn’t that why we chose this profession in the first place?