How Aware Are We as Rehab Physicians?: Importance of Knowing the “Self” for Enhancing Physician Competency in Multicultural Healthcare

How Aware Are We as Rehab Physicians?: Importance of Knowing the “Self” for Enhancing Physician Competency in Multicultural Healthcare

Kriti Mishra
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6960-3.ch006
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The competency of medical professionals is assessed not only based on knowledge they have, but also through their communication and interpersonal approach. This competency is largely influenced by numerous factors; most significant of which is the 'self' that a physician is. 'Self' governs how physicians think and respond to others in a given context and hence, has a large impact on the healthcare that they provide. In multicultural healthcare organizations, understanding 'self' is even more important for physicians to maintain their competency so that they can provide the most effective care to all patients. This chapter takes a look at 'self' of physicians and its impact on physicians' competency by exploring different aspects of 'self', applying concepts from social psychology. The chapter further delves into influence of multiculturism on 'self' and the role of awareness of 'self' in enhancing physicians' performance in culturally diverse clinical settings.
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Multiculturism and ‘Self’

Culture is described as patterned ways of behavior as demonstrated by the members of a very large social group who share beliefs, values, and attitudes and have a similar perception of reality with common understandings, thinking, feeling, and acting (Kreps & Kunimoto, 1994). It is not merely differences in dressing, etiquettes, or diet, but also includes ethics, values, beliefs, heritage, and most profoundly all that matters to people belonging to a particular group (Kreps & Kunimoto, 1994). Interestingly, every individual consists of a unique combination of different cultural orientations and influences by belonging to different cultural groups at the same time and each culture uniquely influencing the lives of individuals. Therefore, in current times, based on an individual's heritage and life experiences, each has developed an own idiosyncratic multicultural identity. This implies that whenever each individual with a multicultural identity communicates with another in a given environment, the impact of the multiple cultures is noticed in their interaction and behavior. Besides, due to globalization and migration in recent times, this diversity has been increasing making multiculturism a world-wide occurrence (Kreps & Kunimoto, 1994). More so, being a multifaceted social phenomenon, it has a powerful influence on all aspects of modern life including health-care.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Stereotypes: They are defined as fixed, over-generalized beliefs about a particular social group or class of people based on prior experiences or beliefs.

Congruence: It refers to maintaining a balance in the inner experience and outer expression of oneself, such that it is genuine, doesn't have a façade and is authentic.

Communication: The process of imparting or exchanging information by verbal, non-verbal or written medium to convey or share ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Prejudice: It means a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or experience. The word comes from the Latin “pre” (before) and “judge.”

Cultural Diversity: It refers to the presence of particular differences between individuals in a group of people or a society based on one’s culture.

Empathy: It is the ability to understand what other is feeling and experiencing in the present moment, as if one is present in the internal frame of reference of the other, experiencing the emotions and meanings of other with accuracy and communicating the same to the other by reflecting their emotions and feelings.

Unconditional Positive Regard: It is defined as an attitude of complete acceptance of a person regardless of any conditions and judgments about what the person does or says.

Cultural Competency: It is the ability to understand and work efficiently with people from diverse cultures by interacting effectively and being proficient in intercultural and intra cultural knowledge.

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