In the United States today it is very important to understand the relation between culture and health and wellness. The U.S. has become a nation of great diversity. Different cultures from all over the world are living in this nation today. In order to promote health and wellness for this diverse group of people, it is imperative for health care workers to gain cultural competency.
I work as a Surgery Coordinator at the University of Kentucky for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. I see the need for the knowledge of cultures quite often. We see many patients that come from a number of different countries. Many of the patients do not speak English. I only speak English but I see the need to be bilingual in Spanish because that is the language of most of our foreign patients. The university is now offering free classes in Medical Terminology in Spanish which I think is a great start for health care workers.
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In knowing this, I can now understand the need to learn about different cultures especially for health care reasons.
I was born in 1960 and at that time there was not as much diversity in this nation, especially in Lexington, KY. My first introduction to “different people” was the when schools became integrated with African Americans. Discrimination against blacks was a topic that everyone was dealing with. I went to an all-white Elementary school. Upon entering junior high school the integration. Children were bused to schools that were outside of their neighborhoods. It was a very difficult time for me and my childhood friends. We were in classes with people that were very different from us. As we came to a better understanding of each other and our cultures we were able to interact and understand each other.
I define health as a state of complete physical, social and mental wellbeing. I would define illness as the absence of health. Anytime our physical, mental or social wellbeing is compromised I feel that is an illness. Whenever I experience a noticeable change in my health I tend to self-diagnose myself. I think this is because I have worked in health care for so long. In talking to other health care workers it seems that the majority of us do seem to try and self-diagnose. Once I come to the conclusion that I am not a doctor I end up making an appointment with an appropriate doctor.
I do my best to protect my health. I try to eat the right foods that are good for me but it is hard sometimes when you work full time and have a busy life to juggle. I keep my mind busy with classes and reading. I enjoy the outdoors as much as I can and try to exercise. My social network is very healthy. I interact with many friends on a regular basis. I feel that doing these things promote my overall health.
It is quite evident that health and wellness are two attributes that we all need to promote within ourselves. Those of us that live in the U.S. that come from different cultures and have language barriers may find this more difficult. This is why it is imperative for us to gain cultural competency so that we can gain a better understanding of our patients’ overall wellbeing.