Diversifying the Healthcare workforce
The healthcare industry, for the longest, has been predominantly white when it comes to its workers and the treatments provided. Across America, patients struggle to receive care due to their gender, religion, class or their sexuality. The issues portrayed to create a disconnected community. To me, it seems ironic that The United States of America, one of the most diversified countries, struggles to incorporate the different communities in our country and meet their needs. The United States continues to grow in diversity as we enter newer generations. As a future health professional, I believe we need to work together in order to provide a healthcare field that will meet our patients' needs. But in order to do so, we must first become educated and attempt to understand these struggles.
Before beginning, we must understand the difference between Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity. Inclusion means including different people and groups in a bigger group. Being inclusive means providing all patients and workers with a voice in order to offer and receive the best care possible. Equity can be described as having equal access to resources and support. In the healthcare field, we need to make sure that each patient has the same opportunities as the next. If by some chance they do not have the same opportunities we need to make sure that it becomes possible for them to gain them. Our job as health care professionals is to provide the best quality of care to any and every patient! Finally, diversity is understanding the backgrounds of those around us whether is be cultural, gender, religious, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Healthcare facilities should strive to hire a diversified team!
When I was younger, something that became very obvious to me was the dividing wall in communication between my family members and their physicians. First gen students may understand what I speak of; the language barrier in the healthcare field. I remember how in many clinics or hospitals there were few or unprepared interpreters to help my mom. It was always a struggle to find someone to help her, which always made her appointments longer than needed. Immigrant patients can fall victim to lack of care because of this barrier and it can lead to them receiving expensive medical bills or not receiving the proper care needed.
An article from The Journal of Clinical Ethics, “Communication through Interpreters in Healthcare: Ethical Dilemmas Arising from Differences in Class, Culture, Language and Power” speaks about the difficulties that arise from different educational, cultural, or class backgrounds. Due to these differences, the patient and healthcare provider may find it difficult to communicate a proper health care plan that lies in a common area of cultural values. When both the patient and the physician carry different cultural values, it becomes hard for both teams to understand what each needs from the other.
The results found from a 2019 study have shown that Black, Latino, and Native American people were underrepresented in the healthcare workforce. In the US workforce, 12.1% consisted of black workers, 18.2% consisted of Latino/Hispanic workers, and Native Americans represented 0.6% of the overall U.S workforce. The findings are important because minority health professionals play a critical role in efforts to reduce the disproportionate burden of diseases, including COVID-19, among communities of color. This study relied on acquiring publicly available data from the “American Community Survey” and the “Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems” to calculate the current racial and ethnic profile of ten health professions: Advanced practice registered nurse, Dentist, Pharmacist, Physician, Physician Assistant, Occupational therapist, Physical therapist, Respiratory therapist, Speech-language pathologist, and Registered nurse.
As we have seen in current news, a debate in the healthcare field tends to have involved providing care and treatment to transgender patients. Transgender patients face discrimination, stigma, and violence because of their gender identity/expression. The toll this takes on their mental, physical and behavioral health can affect the patient's overall well-being and can lead to higher rates of health problems. Transgender patients encounter unique challenges and inequalities in finding access to healthcare insurance and adequate care. Although laws have been implemented to protect transgender patients, adopting nondiscrimination laws and inclusive policies will be critical for improving health outcomes!
In order to diversify the healthcare workforce, we need to make sure we are providing adequate tools to fulfill this goal. By diversifying the field of healthcare we also create growth within the industry! Health care facilities can establish a diversity and inclusion team that includes ambassadors dedicated to diversity and inclusion by bringing cultural awareness. As students entering the workforce, it is important that we too become open-minded to others! We hold a special responsibility as healthcare professionals and with that being said we are creating a safer future!