Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Workforce Diversity and Cultural Competence in Healthcare

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Workforce Diversity and Cultural Competence in Healthcare

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper presents a discussion of workforce diversity in healthcare and its attendant requisite of cultural competency. The first section of the paper argues that self-assessments and diversity training are integral to workforce diversity management. This paper maintains that diversity training should be a part of overall strategic goals, and that the development of management goals should be based on self-assessments. The second section of the review offers a framework of cultural competency in healthcare delivery based on the relationship between patient and provider, and the community and health system. For this relationship to be successful, this review argues that health systems should foster providers that can also be cultural brokers. The cultural broker role is seen as core to achieving cultural competency.

Key Words: Workforce Diversity Management; Diversity Training; Cultural Competence; Cultural Diversity; Healthcare Delivery; Cultural Broker

Workforce diversity and its attendant requisite of cultural competency have gained wide currency because of the recognition of differences, sometimes profound, in values, beliefs and behaviors among ethnic groups. Sociologists and anthropologists have drawn our collective attention to these differences. The overall goal of cultural competency or knowledge in healthcare is to improve health outcomes. In the healthcare setting, the issues of workforce diversity, and cultural competence become specifically focused on how to help residents achieve healthy bodies - the primary resource of all individuals and the community as a whole - in the context of changes and pressures in the healthcare market. This objective falls under the purview of all workers in a health system including the administration, management, health professionals and allied health professionals. In fact, the issues of cultural diversity, beliefs and behavior are part of the continuous process and approaches of managing complex social interactions, because they challenge us to find beneficial ways of structuring our relationships. Currently, there is a plethora of literature on diversity issues; the Society for Human Resource Management for example has compiled a list of 80 articles (from 1995 and 1996) on diversity in general and diversity training.

Two broad themes are offered in this review: (a) issues related to self-assessments and diversity training, which are proposed as the key elements of workforce diversity management in healthcare, and (b) a framework for understanding cultural competency in healthcare delivery based on the relationship between the patient and provider, and the community and health system. In the first section, the review argues for the importance of the self-assessment process and the development of diversity training as mechanisms for addressing the changing demographic landscape. In the second section, a review of patient/provider and community/health system relationship is offered. This discussion presents the concept of cultural broker as the key role of providers and health systems in their delivery of healthcare - that is, in their interactions with patients and the community. The cultural broker role is seen as core to achieving cultural competency. Pathways for overcoming constraints and maintaining the relationship are also offered in the review. The reviews and framework presented here are meant for a variety of professionals working in the health system. Human resources managers, senior level administrators, ombudspersons, community advisory groups, clinicians as well as allied health providers will find seeds of interest here.

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY AND HEALTHCARE

In the world market, the term globalization is a reflection of both economic expansion and workforce diversity. Demographic changes in the domestic labor pool provide opportunities for bridging gaps between industries and consumers, as well as opening doors to minorities. …

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