Every year the United States continues to become a more diverse nation. Changing demographics, immigration, and population shifts mean that more people of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, and orientations are calling all parts of the U.S. home.
So, what does this mean for healthcare organizations?
It means that the need for ‘culturally competent’ caregivers is on the rise. Physicians, nurses, aides, caregivers, and office staff interact with patients of various backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and ages on a daily basis. From the way that healthcare professionals approach a patient (in some cultures a handshake or eye contact can be considered offensive, while older patients may feel that being addressed by their first name is too informal), to language barriers, to instilling a feeling of trust and comfort, the challenge is on providers and organizations to find ways to better serve patients from all over the world.
Beyond the comfort factor, a lack of diversity can lead to health disparities. A recent report from the Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Healthcare Workplace, entitled “Missing Persons: Minorities in the Healthcare Professions,” states that “The fact that the nation’s health professions have not kept pace with changing demographics may be an even greater cause of disparities in health access and outcomes than the persistent lack of health insurance for tens of millions of Americans.”
And a 2015 study commissioned by the American Hospital Association found that: “Hospitals and health systems have a great opportunity to improve the health of the individuals and communities they serve by eliminating health care disparities by increasing the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference (REAL) data; increasing cultural competency training; and increasing diversity in leadership and governance.” (Source: Diversities and Disparities: A Benchmarking Study of U.S. Hospitals in 2015.)
It seems clear that as the United States becomes a more diverse place, the healthcare industry has an opportunity, and a responsibility, to reflect diversity for the good of us all. At Jordan Search Consultants, offering strategic consultation for creating and implementing inclusive recruitment solutions is a top priority. By providing clients with a diverse pool of premium candidates, we are moving one step closer to a more inclusive healthcare system.