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Diversity is important, in every walk of life, more so important in healthcare. Clinicians interact with people with diverse backgrounds, race, gender, language and more, on the daily. If you are a clinician already working in the field or gearing up to join the workforce, it is imperative to understand the part you can play in making your current or potential workspace, a more healthy, diverse and inclusive environment. Here are 4 essential skills for clinicians working in diverse environments.
Every change or awareness starts with introspection. Pause for a second and ponder over what diversity means to you; it could be race, gender or even religion. However, diversity is a wider concept that encompasses a range of attributes. Diversity can be of many types, and a modern healthcare professional must be mindful of the following types essentially:
Understanding and addressing all types of diversity can make you respectful and mindful of your patients’ perspectives and empathize better with them. As a result, patients are more likely to open up to you about their health challenges and take medical advice seriously. Several research papers have also highlighted the significance of establishing instant rapport in enhancing treatment outcomes.
Once you have a clear picture of diversity, it is time to understand the other aspect of the equation - Inclusion. It is said that diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. There have been many different studies on the importance of inclusion. A Harvard Business Review says that diversity doesn’t stick without inclusion. How can you make efforts to be inclusive in your career as a clinician?
Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others and to understand what the other person is experiencing. The significance of this behavioural skill in a clinical setting can never be understated. Extend empathy to understand what in the person’s background makes them different. When you ask your patients questions about their symptoms, also take into consideration their ethnicity, socio-economic status and all the other aspects that could determine or affect their decision to seek care.
An article published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM) states that “The empathetic relationship of the health professionals with their health care users reinforces their cooperation towards designing a therapeutic plan and a tailor-made intervention, increasing thus the patient’s satisfaction from the therapeutic process”.
Being aware of your privilege is a crucial step in adopting a more inclusive attitude. Privileges can be institutional, personal, societal, physical, political, or more, and operate through different levels, situations and forms. While they are not created on a personal level, they are often perpetuated by systems and accepted norms. As a clinician, nurse or healthcare worker, you must analyse the privilege you enjoy in the world and acknowledge where you stand.
Everyone has certain biases, sub-conscious mostly, that they rely upon when meeting with strangers, which, in the life of clinicians, nurses and healthcare workers, is almost, every day. Understanding these biases is a very important step in being a more inclusive person. A few ways in which you can avoid bringing these assumptions to your daily interaction with patients are:
Functioning and succeeding in this highly non-binary world requires introspection at every step, and these essential skills for clinicians working in diverse environments can go a long way in helping them establish a healthy work culture. And as it is said, change always starts with us!
We at DirectShifts, are pro-diversity and believe that every healthcare recruiter should focus on diversity and inclusion. The benefits are far-reaching with improvement in team morale and engagement, better innovation and decision making, all resulting in better patient care and healthcare delivery. We are also proud to partner with brands that are pro-diversity and inclusive. Sign-up here to apply for several clinician jobs with like-minded healthcare employers.