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Cultural Competence of Medical Staff in the US

How to Overcome Barriers to Cultural Competence

Nowadays, it is wrong to neglect the fact that cultural competence plays an important role in health care. The USA is the country with a considerable increase in the ethnic mix. Its demographic changes create numerous challenges for health care workers. Therefore, it is necessary for nurses and other medical staff representatives to learn how to meet special needs, how to recognize and access possible barriers, and what steps to take to avoid or solve certain problems caused by such barriers. Zerwekhs and Zerwekhs-Garneau (2013) introduce two main categories of these barriers: on the one hand, there are provider barriers like the lack of information on patients’ culture, and, on the other hand, there are systems barriers like an inappropriate organizational structure and policies which cannot support the existing cultural diversity. Though I have not overcome these barriers, I am eager to use different sources and get myself prepared for such steps.

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My plan consists of three main steps: recognition, understanding, and intervention. First, it is necessary to recognize the problem. It could be a lack of funding, a lack of knowledge, and even a lack of applications that are offered by different professionals (Reese & Beckwith, 2015). As soon as the problem is recognized, it is expected to comprehend it, its causes, and possible outcomes. There is no need to make the decisions at this stage. Everything that is required is to make sure that everything is clear. Finally, any medical worker has to know how to solve a problem and overcome the barriers. I believe that online literature research and the visit to regular training and lectures for all workers in hospitals and medical centers.

Reasons for not Having Barriers

There are situations when people, especially medical workers, believe that they do not have barriers to cultural competence. The first reason why people may have such thoughts is the evident reduction of racial disparities in society. Nowadays, people are less concerned about their racial differences in comparison to the situations that were observed in the middle or at the end of the 20th century. Besides, barriers are explained by the fact that people speak different languages. Unfortunately, language diversity is still the cause of cultural problems. However, it continues to reduce because people try to use English as the common language for speaking between people.

Today, there are many specific organizations and associations that aim at developing different guides, policies, and standards according to which cultural competence may be supported (Zerwekhs & Zerwekhs-Garneau, 2013). Health care workers should learn the rules in order to be sure that they offer high-quality services. The government and private stakeholders try to participate in the development of new educational programs and support nursing and health care education. In other words, people have many opportunities to study the importance of cultural diversity and its presence in health care. Educators could ask questions, investigate case studies, and share their experience in order to define the best methods of work with patients, who have different nationalities and cultures. Finally, health care workers are obliged to avoid the cases of prejudice and ethnocentrism. It is wrong to work with a patient and focus on their nationality or the color of the skin. Some nurses and doctors may lose their jobs in case they continue focusing on the barriers to cultural competence. Therefore, they are usually not identified.


Reese, D.J., & Beckwith, S.K. (2015). Organizational barriers to cultural competence in hospice. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 32(7), 685-694.

Zerwekhs, J., & Zerwekhs-Garneau, A. (2013). Nursing today – Revised reprint: Transitions and trends. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

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