The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

British Culture Linked to Low Cancer Survival Rates in the UK

British Culture Linked to Low Cancer Survival Rates in the UK
It is well a known fact that a very British cultural trait is to keep yourself to yourself and not to bother others or cause them inconvenience. The "stiff upper lip" as it is sometimes known. Research suggests that this might be the reason why the UK cancer survival rate is one of Europe’s lowest.
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Interpreters "Operating" In Hospitals

Interpreters "Operating" In Hospitals



People often think that UK doctors are the pillars of UK society who you can trust implicitly, however it seems that the Europe is insisting on chipping away at the confidence that we have in our doctors.

This is due to foreign doctors entering the UK to work. According to recent figures not all doctors that enter the UK are assessed for their competency in the English language and as a result interpreters are being employed by the NHS to make the doctors understood.

European law states that as long as doctors are qualified to work in the UK health service then the General Medical Council are not able to refuse employment based on poor language skills. This has left the UK health service having to seek language interpreters to translate the language for foreign doctors.

Using interpreters creates an extra step in the medical process that allows for human error. If we need to start employing UK interpreters to translate the language for non-native speaking doctors there would be unnecessary bodies in the operating theatre and hospital wards. Interpreters have a difficult job and they can make mistakes due to the nuances of a language and errors are just not an option when you are dealing with lives.

The UK General Medical Council has made a submission to the European Commission which is currently reviewing laws that allow doctors to practice freely across Europe. As there is no standardised medical qualification it means that is it hard to assess doctors that are not from the UK, let alone whether or not doctors are able to speak the language.

The GMC has known of cases where language interpreters have been needed in theatres and of cases when doctors operating on a patient have spoken to co-workers in a language other than English and this left confusion in the operating theatre.
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Cross Cultural Palliative Care

Cross Cultural Palliative Care



Different cultures and religions deal with the concept of death differently.  The use of medicine and health care varies across different cultures because of the beliefs of their people. Due to varying beliefs across cultures, there is a need for cultural understanding or cultural competence in medicine, especially in palliative care. ‘In medicine, cultural competence means providing health care services that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices, and cultural and linguistic needs of diverse patients.’   The use of cultural competence is especially important in palliative care because people of varying cultures have very different approaches to dealing with death. (Palliative care improves the quality of life for patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease).
An organisation called the Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC) developed a project in 2005 to raise awareness of palliative care problems faced by its members (United States and the health ministries of Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey). The aim of MECC’s project is to find a common ground between these 7 countries’ methods of dealing with palliative care. Part of this project is to give palliative care training to nurses, physicians and social workers which respects the varying spiritual beliefs between the countries involved.
In many hospitals, there are now nurses who are employed because they are of the same religion and cultural background to certain patients. For example Dr. Myriam Weyl Ben-Arush, (head of the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Department at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel) has Arabic-speaking nurses and social workers, as well as those who speak Hebrew. This is to ensure that staff can be empathetic to the spiritual needs of their patients.
Taking spiritual belief into account is important when dealing with death because people of different cultures have different beliefs. For example, a Druze family believes in reincarnation and an Arab Christian person believes in Heaven. So perhaps these people will find the idea of death less difficult than someone who does not believe in any kind of life after death.
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Culture and Medical Care

Culture and Medical Care



The patient in Room 328 had diabetes and hypertension. But when Va Meng Lee, a Hmong shaman, began the healing process by looping a coiled thread around the patient’s wrist, Mr. Lee’s chief concern was summoning the ailing man’s runaway soul.

“Doctors are good at disease,” Mr. Lee said as he encircled the patient, Chang Teng Thao, a widower from Laos, in an invisible “protective shield” traced in the air with his finger. “The soul is the shaman’s responsibility.”

At Mercy Medical Center in Merced, where roughly four patients a day are Hmong from northern Laos, healing includes more than IV drips, syringes and blood glucose monitors. Because many Hmong rely on their spiritual beliefs to get them through illnesses, the hospital’s new Hmong shaman policy, the country’s first, formally recognizes the cultural role of traditional healers like Mr. Lee, inviting them to perform nine approved ceremonies in the hospital, including “soul calling” and chanting in a soft voice.

The policy and a novel training program to introduce shamans to the principles of Western medicine are part of a national movement to consider patients’ cultural beliefs and values when deciding their medical treatment.

Read more > Mercy Medical Centre
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Nursing and Intercultural Dynamics

Nursing and Intercultural Dynamics



Transcultural nursing with established clinical approached to clients with varying cultures are relatively new. According to Madeleine Leininger (1987) founder of the filed of transcultural nursing in the mid 1960s. The education of nursing students in this field is only now beginning to yield  significant results.

Today  nurses with a deeper appreciation of human life and values are developing cultural sensitivity for appropriate individualized clinical approaches.

Religious and Cultural knowledge is an important ingredient in health care. If the client do not respond as nurse expects the nurse may interpret it as unconcern or resistance the nurse then can be anxious and frustrated in order to incorporate cultural knowledge in care cultural knowledge in care.

It is important to understand some definition and cultural components that are important in health care.

For a nurse to successfully provide care for a client of a different cultural or ethnic to background, effective intercultural communication must take place. Intercultural communication occurs when each person attempts to understand the other’s point of   view from his or her own cultural frame of reference. Effective intercultural communication is facilitated by the nurse identification of areas of commonalities. After reaching a cultural. understanding, the nurse must consider cultural factor throughout the nursing process.

Major Nursing organizations have emphasized in the last decade the importance of considering culture factors when delivering nursing care.

According to the American Nurses’ s Association (1976)”Consideration of individual value systems and lifestyles should be included in the planning and health care for each client Nursing curriculum recognize the contribution nursing to the health care needs of a diverse and multi cultural society life-style may ret1ect cultural heritage.

Culture-Broadly defines set of values, beliefs and traditions, that are held by a specific group of people and handed down from generation to generation. Culture is also beliefs, habits, likes, dislikes, customs and rituals learn from one’s family. (Specter 1991)

Culture is the learned, shared and transmitted values, beliefs, norms and life way practices of a particular group that guide thinking, decisions, and actions in patterned ways.

Religion:  Is a set of belief in a divine or super human power (or powers) to be obeyed and worshipped as the creator and ruler of the universe? Ethical values and religion system of beliefs and practices, difference within the culture and across culture are found

Ethnic: refers to a group of people who share a common and distinctive culture and who are members of a specific group.

Culture-universals: commonalities of values, norms of behavior, and life patterns that are similar among different cultures.

Culture-specifies ; values, beliefs, and patterns of behavior that tend to be unique to a designate culture.

Cultural shock:-the state of being disoriented or unable to respond to a different cultural environment because of its sudden strangeness, unfamiliarity, and incompatibility to the stranger's perceptions and expectations at is differentiated from others by symbolic markers (cultures, biology, territory, religion).

Read more > Nursing
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Exposure To Racial And Ethnic Diversity Better Prepares Medical Students

An article published in the medical education-themed September 10 issue of JAMA finds that white medical students are more likely to consider themselves highly prepared to provide care for minority populations if they attended schools with racial and ethnically diverse student bodies.

Under the belief that diversity exposes students to a broader field of ideas, experiences, and perspectives, most medical schools in the United States explicitly try to keep their student bodies racially and ethnically varied. The schools also believe that diversity in the classroom better prepares student to provide services to the multicultural American population. However, little research exists to support the claim of educational benefits from diversity in medical schools.

Read more > Medical News
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Medical staff require training on intercultural awareness

Medical staff require professional interpreters and specific training on intercultural awareness, a new study published in the open access journal BMC Health Services Research suggests. The authors reveal that doctors are dissatisfied with the treatment they provide to their non-native patients, and that they cite cultural differences and language barriers as the key factors causing the disappointment with the level of care that they provide.

Birgit Babitsch from the Berlin Institute of Gender in Medicine in Germany, and co-workers from Berlin and the UK, gathered the results of questionnaires completed by doctors working in the internal medicine and gynaecology departments of three Berlin hospitals. The responses were then narrowed down to those relating to native Germans and those of Turkish origin and analysed in conjunction with the patients’ medical records. Over 2400 doctor questionnaires and corresponding patient records were finally analyzed.

The researchers found that doctors’ dissatisfaction with the patient-doctor relationship was much greater with regard to their Turkish patients. The two main reasons given were communication difficulties and the doctors’ perceptions that the Turkish patients did not always require urgent treatment. Around 20% of doctors were dissatisfied with the course of treatment for Turkish patients, compared to 10% for German patients. Minor differences were found in doctors’ satisfaction with regard to the patient’s gender.

Dr Babitsch states: “The use of professional interpreters for improved communication and the training of medical staff for improved intercultural competence are essential for the provision of adequate health care in a multicultural setting.”

Read more > EurekAlert
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88% of clinical professionals encounter non-English speaking patients

More than 88 percent of America clinical research, healthcare, and medical device industry professionals surveyed encounter non-English speaking patients and subjects on a regular basis. The November 2007 survey, which was conducted by Global Language Solutions (GLS), polled the firm's clients and industry contacts on the types of languages spoken by their patients or research subjects, as well as the one(s) used most often.

GLS, which specializes in translation and interpreting services for the medical devices, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries, was not surprised to find Spanish as the non-English language most commonly cited by respondents; with 90 percent those surveyed who encounter non-English languages listing it as the most common. Other languages listed included French (37 percent), Chinese (25 percent), and Russian (20 percent).

Read more> GLS 
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88% of clinical professionals encounter non-English speaking patients

More than 88 percent of America clinical research, healthcare, and medical device industry professionals surveyed encounter non-English speaking patients and subjects on a regular basis. The November 2007 survey, which was conducted by Global Language Solutions (GLS), polled the firm's clients and industry contacts on the types of languages spoken by their patients or research subjects, as well as the one(s) used most often.

GLS, which specializes in translation and interpreting services for the medical devices, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries, was not surprised to find Spanish as the non-English language most commonly cited by respondents; with 90 percent those surveyed who encounter non-English languages listing it as the most common. Other languages listed included French (37 percent), Chinese (25 percent), and Russian (20 percent).

Read more> GLS 
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NHS HR staff accused of ignoring racism and bullying of Asian doctors

eading figures have told Personnel Today how HR teams are allowing a minority of racist line managers to make working life tough for migrant medics.

Their comments come after a General Medical Council (GMC) report showed that doctors trained overseas were twice as likely to face formal disciplinary hearings once a complaint had been made as those who graduated in the UK.

Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, told Personnel Today: "There is no doubt that bullying of Asian doctors goes on.

"The small minority of racists in the NHS take complaints [about foreign doctors] to HR. HR needs better training in handling these issues."

Read more: Doctors 
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