Being in the hospital and away from the people you are closest to can be stressful enough, but dealing with perceived insensitivities as you interact with hospital staff can make things even worse. As boundaries are now often less stringent and people of different backgrounds and cultures increasingly come into contact with one another, the need for cultural diversity training should not be overlooked. Without an understanding or acknowledgment of cultural differences, simple misunderstandings may accelerate out of control. This in turn may lead to a more difficult recovery time for the patient, frustration for the medical professional and unnecessary anxiety for all concerned. Making cultural diversity a part of medical training may make things easier for patients as well as for their attending medical personnel.

One of the first steps in medical treatment often involves having a talk with the patient to understand their symptoms. Patient feedback is still important even after a medication or therapy has been initiated, as this information may help gauge whether the treatment is making things better or worse. If your words, gestures, or approach upsets a patient because you have even inadvertently violated their cultural expectations, this may seriously hamper your ability to do your job as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Without cultural diversity coaching you may overlook this roadblock completely, but you will likely get to repair the relationship if you at least acknowledge your misstep.

Many doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel must speak to the families of their patients as well, and being sensitive to cultural diversity may make these interactions more beneficial as well. Just because you see a particular course of treatment to be logical, for example, does not mean that every peer or layperson will agree with you. Such situations may necessarily require acknowledging a different point of view, and doing so in a way that does not upset or hinder patient recovery.

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