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Closing the Gap on Cultural Competency

Abstract

Culture comprises many important aspects which include the effects of tradition on people’s perceptions, norms, and values. People interact, judge and behave basing on their respective cultures. There are very few individuals who are naturally cultural competent and therefore the majority of remaining populations have to work at developing this character. One can develop cultural competency by critically examining his prejudices and biases. It is also helps for one to develop skills which are cross cultural. One can also become competent by spending time with people who have the same goal orientations. Many careers are greatly affected by lack of cultural competent skills. One of such which experiences many challenges is nursing in the area of care provision (Capezuti, 2007).

Cultural competence

A culturally competent person is one who can effectively interact with people from different cultures. There are four components which are essential with regard to cultural competency; these include individual realization of your cultural world view, cross cultural skills, being informed of other people’s cultural practices and attitude developed towards other cultural practices. Cultural competency can be developed by communicating and understanding people from other different cultures. Development of cultural competency is a process which takes time and therefore requires a lot of patience. At the moment many organizations are working at creating awareness, skills and knowledge about the same.

Cultural competence barriers

In organizational setting, attitudes, congruent behaviors, and policies are combined within the system and among the respective professionals in order for them to effectively work in situations which are cross cultural. The quality of service can only be improved when these factors have been integrated within the system. Health care delivery services are greatly impacted by cultural differences. For this reason providers of health care are supposed to be ethnocentric. The initial step towards cultural competency is individual awareness to cultural competence barriers. Some of the aspects which hinder cultural competence include fear and prejudgment.

These aspects hinder effective communication between care providers and their patients. On the other hand, lack of knowledge about the existing cultural differences creates a hindrance between the patient and the provider to achieving quality health care. It will not be good to make an assumption that people will always behave unlike; this is not true as there exists individual differences which might arise from nationality, family background, ethnicity as well as culture. The above differences affect practices, behaviors as well as beliefs. Some of the factors which contribute to lack of understanding of individual differences include lack of knowledge, denial, time constraints and fear (Lopes, 2001).

The impacts of cultural competence on health care provision

Quality health care can only be provided when the care provider is ethnocentric. Health care providers serve a wide range of people. They deal with immigrants and other minorities therefore they cannot provide quality care in absence of understanding their cultures. This is the reason why cultural competency lessons need to be integrated in educational systems in order to provide professionals who are well equipped as far as cross cultural competency is concerned. Due to differences in cultures, people develop different perspectives of the same issue meaning that the way one person assesses healthy might be very different from another person of another culture. Health care providers must recognize their biases when medication is in question. For the health care provider to sufficiently and satisfactorily meet the patients need they should be culturally competent.

Competence can only be achieved in health cares when the care providers can effectively function within the cultural integrated patterns which greatly influence human behavior. Individuals and set systems have a significant role to play if cultural competency must be achieved. There is need for respecting the cultural diversity of other people and being sensitive to the same issue. Some of the beneficial fruits that may be achieved if these factors are put into practice include acceptance, increased awareness, and utilization of the chances to become knowledgeable about other people’s practices as well as believes and values. Effective and appropriate communication is essential in provision of quality care. This can only be achieved through willingness to learn and listen from people of different cultures (Lopes, 2001).

For effective provision of health care; providers need to acquire personal and academic skills which are essential in identification, appreciation of behaviors as well as health practices of their clients from different cultures. One of the common challenges that come with dealing with people who are multicultural is language barrier. Competent care providers accomplish their service effectively not because they are acquainted with the numerous cultures but because they have learned to respect and appreciate the beliefs, lifestyles and the values of the people they serve. It’s important to understand that cultural competence is developed over time by learning a few concepts each passing day (Lopes, 2001).

 The cultural competence gap can only be closed when providers and other professionals decide to embrace the reality about the existence of cultural difference as well as developing the desire to respect and appreciate the existing differences. It’s important for professionals to be knowledgeable about cultural competence and the aspects which can make an individual to become perfect in the specified area. On the other hand, awareness of the barriers to cultural competence greatly helps in reducing this gap. A professional who practices cultural competence is able to meet the individual needs of his clients. Besides that he can develop a personal relationship with the patient; this is very important to patient’s quick recovery (Capezuti, 2007).