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Cultural Competency - Guidelines & Strategies image 



The goal of culturally competent health care services is to provide the highest quality of care to every patient, regardless of race, ethnicity, or cultural background.


HNS has developed Cultural Competency Standards which establish performance expectations for HNS providers.


Best Practices for Cultural Competency:


1.  Value Diversity

Respect all cultures.  In other words, do not merely tolerate people of differing backgrounds and viewpoints, but consider differences as strengths.


2.  Self-Awareness

Recognize any personal biases against people of different cultures and work to eliminate them.


3.  Awareness and Acceptance of Differences

Understand the way the "person/client" defines health and family and how one's own culture influences how one thinks and acts.


Always be aware of the influences that sociocultural factors have on patients, physicians, and the clinical relationship.


Respect cultural differences regarding physical distance, physical contact, eye contact, and rate and volume of voice.


4.  Dynamics of Differences

Be conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact.  Two people may misjudge the other's actions based on learned expectations.  Both will bring culturally prescribed patterns of communication, etiquette and problem solving.  Also, both may bring stereotypes or underlying feelings about working with someone who is different.  Without an understanding of their cultural differences, misinterpretations or misjudgments may occur.


5.  Accept Responsibility

Recognize your responsibility for understanding the cultural aspect of health and illness.


Accept responsibility to help combat racism, classism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, and other kinds of biases and discrimination that occur in health care settings.


6.  Knowledge of Patient's Culture

Become familiar with aspects of culture that may impact your patient's approach to health care.  Share your knowledge with all staff members.


7.  Adaptation

When indicated, utilize HNS' free, interpretive services, and as applicable, the clinical and administrative forms available in Spanish.  


As appropriate, make sure your programs, services and marketing material reflect an understanding of diversity between and within cultures.


Additional strategies for improving the patient/physician interaction include: 

    1. If possible, recruit and retain minority staff.
    2. Provide training to increase cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills.
    3. Incorporate culture-specific attitudes and values into marketing and promotional tools.
    4. Include family and community members in health care decision making.
    5. Consider expanding hours of operation.
    6. Provide linguistic competency that extends beyond the clinical encounter to the appointment desk, medical billing, and other written materials.



Additional Resources:

The Federal government, as well as professional organizations, has developed excellent resources to aid in the promotion of cultural competency in health care. Below are links to several excellent resources.


American Academy of Family Physicians, "Cultural Proficiency"


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "A Physician's Practical Guide to Culturally Competent Care"


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Minority Health, "Cultural Competency"


National Center for Cultural Competence


National Institutes of Health, "Clear Communication"