How sensitive to cultural differences are you?

According to the United States census bureau, 36% of the population described themselves as “non-Hispanic white”.  By 2050, fully 50% of our nation will be comprised of persons who identify as other than Caucasian.

How might our growing population of persons with different racial and ethnic backgrounds view the world? And what does that mean for the health care system that cares for them?

Many people grow up thinking that their native view of the world they inhabit is shared with everyone.  Our narratives about the way the world works is deeply influenced by the contexts in which we first come into contact with the world.  It can come as a shock that reasonable people can see and interpret the same events in drastically different ways.  Influences including family ties, community affiliations, economic status and religious views are just some of the relationships that differentiate us from each other.

The ability to be aware of one’s personal cultural biases, and to adopt an attitude of flexibility toward them, is a key factor in whether a clinician can effectively work with diverse populations.  The American Speech and Hearing Association has published some tools for Speech Language Pathologists to assess cultural sensitivity in themselves and their organizations.  Follow this link to the ASHA website self-assessment page and take the quiz.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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