Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cultural Awareness in Medicine

FLASHBACK SERIES: Blog posts written during my medical school days at Pacific Northwest University - College of Osteopathic Medicine

by Kim Ha Wadsworth, OMS I

Being an immigrant from Vietnam, I have grown up straddling the American culture and the Vietnamese traditions and customs. I have experienced at firsthand the distrust toward Western Medicine, the aversion to surgical interventions and non-herbal medications, and the tendency to wait until the last possible moment to see a physician. It is with this background that I was able to advocate for my parents and my oldest brother, all of whom faced illnesses that ended in their premature deaths. I explained the medical information with intimate cultural awareness, which also required speaking in their native language in order to clear up misunderstandings of doctor’s comments. Even with these experiences, I still feel that I need to learn more about communicating effectively and respectfully with this culture in order to gain trust, shift perceptions about the health care system, and encourage early intervention in order to attain the best patient outcomes.