Cultural humility. The practice of egoless respectful empowerment and powerful self-reflective supportive interactions. This social transformation is emerging as an essential ingredient in health education and care. The core of cultural humility is a goal of life-long learning of the communities we serve and ourselves. Why is this vital in our medical care system and how does it differentiate from cultural competency?
“Unlike cultural competency, there is no specific end point to cultural humility as we are not being asked to demonstrate a ‘quantifiable set of attitudes’.” (Prasad et al., 2016)
To open our doors to understanding, we must listen with the intent to learn and connect. When ambiguities are invited and assumptions are let go, the seed that grows humility – cultural humility – can flourish. Cultural humility promotes patient-centered care. (Prasad et al., 2016) It is about encouraging the patient to be empowered and recognized as an individual who harbors knowledge crucial to developing the appropriate health care. With this comes a form on tenderness that manifests from our power exchange. When we recognize institutional power imbalances and form a partnership with our patient to identify the social determinants in their lives, we can devise a plan that plays on their strengths and overcomes their barriers.
Rock Stacking photo by @veverkolog, Unspash.com. This timeless practice portrays patience and physical effect to create balance. The top rocks gracefully thanks those that support its weight as it rises towards the sky, as the bottom rocks utilize their strengths to lift the rocks that need support.
Being humble not only benefits patient care through individualization; this characteristic spreads hospitality as an atmosphere. How can a human trait define environmental setting? Patience, active listening, mutual respect, and civility are complimentary characteristics on humility that help health educators create a safe space which will influence and mold the experiences to come. In communication with our patients (Hook et al., 2016), rather than to, we create an inviting space that is familiar and comfortable, yet at the same time, surprising and delightful. Why is this an important factor in health care procedure?
“The 2014 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], 2015) stated that although healthcare access and quality (including patient safety) have improved in recent years, parallel gains in access and quality across groups resulted in continued disparities (***). People who were poor experienced the largest number of disparities, followed by Blacks and Hispanics. (Hook, Boan, Davis, Aten, Ruiz, & Maryon, 2016)
Considering diversity in the community’s health care service is vital to understanding patient demographics as well as recognizing social determinants of health (***). The individual experiences challenges that are beyond the scope of what medical care can provide.
It’s not enough to advise people to eat their vegetables. Especially in nutrition care, we must recognize that food is more than fuel. It is emotional support, tradition, social celebration and more – all very personal to the individual.
“Diversity has been increasingly recognized as an area of emphasis or core value in health care through leading organizations such as the Institute of Medicine (2010) and the National League for Nursing (2013).” (Foronda, Baptiste, & Reinholdt, 2015)
When we recognize diversity and include it into our health care model, we exhibit the ability to adapt integrative care. Considering cultural differences, rather neglecting it, is a celebration of the patient and promotes their self-efficacy in health. In 2016, Prasad et al. declared the validity of cultural humility and the necessity of its promotion boldly - the concept of cultural humility is the ethos component of medical education that provides the culturally sensitive care patients deserve. The practice of cultural humility does not only benefit the partnership between practitioners and patients. This promotion of mindfulness also improves work morale, professional collaboration, and work space communication (Hook et al., 2016).
“Hospital employees who viewed the members of their organizations to be more culturally humble also reported better experiences with hospital safety, including general perceptions of safety, non-punitive response to error, handoffs and transitions, and organizational learning—continual improvement.” (Hook et al., 2016)
At the heart of health care, is the emphasis of care.
I’d like to take the time to define care as:
(R)especting different perspectives
(E)goless life-long education
C.A.R.E.ing nourishes the trust that is built in the practitioner relationship. It ferments healing that begins within. When cultural humility is synergistic with our abilities to think critically as health care professionals, we practice our abilities to use our mind without being used by it(***).
Foronda, C., Baptiste, D.-L., Reinholdt, M. M., & Ousman, K. (2015). Cultural Humility. Journal of
Transcultural Nursing, 27(3), 210–217. doi: 10.1177/1043659615592677
Hook, J. N., Boan, D., Davis, D. E., Aten, J. D., Ruiz, J. M., & Maryon, T. (2016). Cultural Humility and
Hospital Safety Culture. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 23(4), 402–409.
Prasad, S. J., Nair, P., Gadhvi, K., Barai, I., Danish, H. S., & Philip, A. B. (2016). Cultural humility:
treating the patient, not the illness. Medical Education Online, 21(1), 30908. doi:
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