I feel that cultural awareness in the medical field is not brought up a lot. It is an important issue, however.
This semester, I am taking a lot of cultural classes for my General Education (GE). I am not taking any science nor nutrition related courses this semester. However, after this semester, all of my courses will be science/nutrition based. I will be done with my GE. I guess it balances out because I took a lot of courses for my major last semester.The courses I am taking right now are Asian American Woman, Spanish, English, and The Culture and Society of the Middle East. It is very helpful learning about other cultures, especially when you are considering going into a medical field. As you know, you come in contact with many people of different cultures.
Those cultures include recent immigrants from other countries to 2nd or 3rd generation children of immigrants. It can be someone who recently immigrated from China or Palestine to someone who has recently immigrated from El Salvador or Argentina. They could have just came from refugee camps or experienced recent traumatic events in their homeland.
What I am trying to say is that it is important to learn more about other cultures so that you are aware of what you may experience during your career. Some patients may not disclose information you need to make a diagnosis. They may not trust authority due to how they were treated in their home country. Or they may be embarrassed to share the information because they think that the doctor will not understand (It depends on the culture. Remember that each culture is different).
Each culture is different and you will have to learn to handle each one differently. Do not assume that if you see someone of one ethnic origin come in your office is going to act like the way you learned about their culture. Just be aware and do not be surprised if you come across it.
I took a whole class on this subject last semester, called the Social and Cultural Aspects of Food. I learned so much from my professor and it really opened my eyes to what is out there in the world. As a dietitian, you have to know that there are many factors contributing to one’s diet. Culture is a huge contributing factor. You may find it hard to “change” ones diet due to their culture. It is what they have been eating. They may have certain beliefs for eating certain foods or not eating certain foods.
What I am saying is not enough because each culture is different and will react differently to Registered Dietitians or any other medical professional. There is too many to list. That is why it is important to learn about it. That way, you will have a better idea and understanding on what to do if you come across a situation where different cultural beliefs get in the way. Be culturally aware.
Have you been in a situation where cultural differences got in the way?
What is your view on this subject?