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Essay on Cultural Differences Among Patients in the Medical Field

3 pages
616 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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It is normal to encounter different cultures in the medical field in the United States. Patients who attend the healthcare facilities come from different backgrounds and have diverse beliefs. On the other hand, practitioners who provide the healthcare services also have different cultural backgrounds. This justifies the reasons why one serving in the medical office must encounter with various cultures (Galanti, 2014). One of the cultures I have experienced is the assumptions given to patients based on their backgrounds. It means that medical personnel look at a patient and judge them based on their looks and country of origin while making general assumptions, which are wrong in most cases. Stereotyping patients leads to a high level of misunderstanding. In addition, it prevents patients from accessing quality care and attention when at the facilities since medical practitioners make uninformed judgments.

The culture of stereotyping stems from the presence of natives in the country since not all people are Americans by birth. Migration of people into the United States has created a social problem since persons from other nations have different cultural practices than those in the country. There is a high probability of having contrasting perceptions and beliefs since the flow of thoughts and way of lives of individuals are different (Galanti, 2014). For instance, when an Irish patient visits the hospital, a wrong interpretation of their behavior and interaction with the medical provider might lead to a miscalculated action. Culturally, Irish people reduce their abilities to express their pain when in a group. The patient may not communicate to the doctor and inform them of the pain they might have and choose to let their family members know about it instead. Since the medical provider does not receive any information from the patient, they may assume that they are under no pain.

Therefore, when someone from the family or group communicates the message from the patient to the doctor, the practitioner may not take it well. This is because they assume that a patient should communicate with them directly as opposed to passing through a third party. It may also lead to anger and agitation from the doctor since they feel the patient ignored the role they play as a medical provider (Betancourt & Green, 2010). Stereotyping is worse when a hospital receives a female patient from other cultures and has a male doctor attending to them. Some cultures oppress women, as they are not allowed to communicate with men directly.

When one is interviewing a patient from another culture, like in this case, the Irish woman, they may find out some of the underlying reasons, which prevented them from communicating with the doctor directly and had to pass through one of their family members. For instance, in the Irish culture, women suppress their feelings and are unwilling to let the men aware of what they might have. Men are considered superior to women, which mean the latter are unwilling to communicate with the males. One of the changes that would be initiated in the healthcare facilities is medical personnel having knowledge of the potential and actual dangers of stereotyping in a healthcare facility (Betancourt & Green, 2010). It is important to have knowledge of different cultural practices and customs, which will help, prevent misunderstanding (Purnell, 2012). In addition, the medical office can engage in professional approaches when dealing with patients from all backgrounds so that they can provide them with quality care.


Betancourt, J. R., & Green, A. R. (2010). Commentary: linking cultural competence training to improved health outcomes: perspectives from the field. Academic Medicine, 85(4), 583-585.

Galanti, G. A. (2014). Caring for patients from different cultures. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Purnell, L. D. (2012). Transcultural health care: A culturally competent approach. FA Davis.

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