Addressing Cultural Barriersby Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS | November 6, 2005
Addressing cultural barriers was not as important of an issue in our daily lives until recently. With the interdependence of our global economy, education and healthcare being vital parts of our survival, many colleagues from various areas of academic specialties have raised concern.
The world’s economy, education and healthcare are different colors of ink on the same sheet of paper and have a common denominator, cultural differences.
In healthcare, a treatment regime requiring surgery for the removal of a tumor may be fine for one cultural group, whereas another may need to have a Shaman to find the soul of the individual before the surgery takes place. With more companies in the United States of America outsourcing the customer service of their business to other countries, there is very little known to those about the American work ethics and values placed on family and friends. Confronting economy and healthcare on the forefront is the educational system. An instructor who is unaware of cultural differences within the classroom will likely succeed in continually breeding more cultural barriers. An example would be a chemistry instructor with students who all recently failed an exam and continue to do poorly in the course. This should signal the instructor to evaluate the methods of instruction. The instructor knows the material being taught. Why are the students doing so poorly? The instructor says tomato, but the students only understand tomatoe. Both, instructor and students need to communicate with one another and discovery why the material being taught is not being learned.
Cultural barriers can be broken down when all parties are willing to listen. This will allow for innovative healthcare treatment regimes to surface and benefit as many people who are willing to accept the treatments.
Written by Richard W. Sharp, Jr., Ph.D.
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