Many of us have gone through cultural competency training either at work or in a class. Many more of us have encountered situations that have increased our knowledge of cultural competency in our everyday lives. This could have been an encounter with a person or place or situation that was new and diverse to us. Do you ever recall meeting someone from a different background than yours or seeing a tradition that was not familiar to you? Regardless of our exposure, there is always more we can learn to increase our cultural competence. So, what is cultural competence and how will it benefit us in our work and school? In the healthcare setting alone, there is great diversity in illness among different populations. Understanding differences among people can better help us serve their needs and hopefully treat their illnesses.
What is cultural competency?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC (sourced below) describes cultural competency as a process that develops over time. Cultural competency supports people from all languages and cultures. It can involve our attitudes, behaviors and policies that form as a result of integration and knowledge of a new culture. Cultural competency can involve language, customs, beliefs, thoughts, values and much more. It includes how we view the people around us and the differences they may have between us.
Next, we will take a look at why cultural competency is important in the healthcare setting and how we can continue to improve it individually and as organizations.
Information was sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):