Tips for overcoming cultural barriers

Readiness to learn can differ from culture to culture

Anyone trying to comply with the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organization guidelines for patient and family education knows that learning assessments must consider cultural practices. Yet, assessing learning needs in culturally diverse environments can be difficult.

That’s why Yvonne Brookes, RN, performance consultant and patient education liaison at Baptist Health Systems in Miami, and her colleague Helen Slavin, MS, performance consultant in education services, suggest 10 strategies. These tips on assessment were offered during a workshop at the American Society for Healthcare Education & Training annual educational conference in Orlando, FL, in May.

Strategies include:

• Be a detective, constantly searching for clues.

• Take time to observe behavior and delay attaching meaning.

• Don’t assume . . . Ask.

• Use all your sources.

• Ask open-ended vs. closed questions.

• Be open, and actively educate yourself about other cultures. Ask people to tell you about their cultures.

• Avoid stereotypes. One size for all doesn’t work for clothes or people.

• Be a listener. Use active listening to elicit the information you need.

• Check it out. Once you think you understand, test your reality. See if what you think is true.

• Relax and enjoy it. Exploring diversity is a wonderful adventure. Not a minefield.