Cultural Competency And Health Disparities Essay

2681 words - 11 pages

The United States’ population is currently rising exponentially and with growth comes demographic shifts. Some of the demographics shifts include the population growth of Hispanics, increase in senior citizens especially minority elderly, increase in number of residents who do not speak English, increase in foreign-born residents, population trends of people from different sexual orientation, and trends of people with disabilities (Perez & Luquis, 2009). As a public health practitioner, the only way to effectively eliminate health disparities among Americans, one must explore and embrace the demographic shifts of the United States population because differences exist among ethnic groups ...view middle of the document...

Without these methods, the work of public health practitioners would be inadequate.

The first step to achieving complete cultural competency is valuing diversity. It is a process that requires cultural humility. Unlike competency, cultural humility goes beyond simply being knowledgeable of differences, but having a humble desire to ensure a lifelong commitment to intercultural exchange (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998). I have witnessed some Americans oppose the idea of immigration and strongly believe that American services should not cater to immigrants. They believe that all foreigners should learn English and the United States should not accommodate their linguistic needs. These same people are aware of the cultural differences that exist in America, but lack cultural humility and appreciation for diversity, making it difficult for them to attain complete cultural competency. A public health professional cannot go into a community, assuming that everyone thinks and behaves like them. They must be open-minded, flexible, empathetic, and aware of the differences and similarities that exist. Therefore, cultural humility is a prerequisite in achieving cultural competence.
The next step in cultural and linguistic competency is conducting both a community and self-assessment. Instead of placing a cultural label on a specific group, one must be aware of the differences within a cultural group and understand how each person identifies themselves through individual and community assessments. For instance, a public health practitioner may conduct a needs assessment on a group of elderly African Americans and assume they want to first discuss the cultural factors that affect them as African Americans in America. However, they may think that their status as an elderly person in America is a more important determinant of their health than their African American identity. Cultural humility involves self-reflection and self-critiques to give public health professions an opportunity to re-address services they provide that are not culturally sound (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998). After I completed my cultural self-assessment, it made me reflect on my own cultural experiences. I describe myself as a young middle-class Jamaican American woman. Nonetheless, I first identify myself as a female. My gender has a major influence on the way I view my health and will inform my future health practice as my interests in reproductive and woman's health issues grow. As a female, I believe that it is my social responsibility to advocate for the woman's health. I then define myself as both Jamaican and African American. I was born in the United States but my parents are from Jamaica. Many people in my family do not consider themselves African American, but rather Caribbean American. However, this option is often times not available on the demographic section of forms so they are forced to group themselves with other ethnicities. Views of Jamaican Americans are...

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