Each year five to ten million people cross international borders to seek a new home all over the world; moreover, women make up more than half of the incoming immigrants. There are many reasons why the amount of immigrating women is higher; they include family reunification, economic incentives, and educational opportunities, as well as escaping from gender-based discrimination or political violence and gaining more social independence (Delara, 2016).
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Immigration Healthcare issues have been called ineffective, racist, threatening, and many additional terms for a long time. However, for women receiving quality healthcare while being an immigrant is twice as hard, given various circumstances. Immigrant women appear as an extremely vulnerable group of minorities who continually experience healthcare inequity and contempt.
In most cases, these women have to overcome extreme barriers and spend many hours learning the regulations and fighting for themselves to receive proper healthcare. The reason why I chose this particular group of women is that in recent years, immigrants have been facing inadequate restrictions and cruel attitudes towards themselves, and the medical area is not an exception. There have been hundreds of cases when immigrant women did not receive quality treatment in time, which resulted in risking their lives and the more devastating lives of many unborn children. It is a critical issue of human rights that deserves attention.
Statistics Related to Immigrant Women and Their Impact on Women’s Health
The amount of immigrant women and girls in the United States has reached 20 million people. There is a significant social class gap between immigrant and U.S.-born women when it comes to social privileges, and statistics are undeniable proof of it. Data on healthcare service differences for immigrant women is quite disappointing. According to research KKF statistics (2019), only 66% of immigrant women have health insurance comparing to 85% of U.S.-born women.
Such a high percentage of insurance absence indicates the limited access to employer-sponsored coverage for specifically immigrant women. Immigrant people are more likely to have low-income jobs than native citizens, and it results in their inability to afford medical services. It is especially hard for a woman immigrant to find a well-paid job with covered insurance than any other male or female individual; it results in the inability to pay for medical coverage in most cases. Such actions may lead to the risk of challenges when it comes to affording healthcare coverage; therefore, undiagnosed or untreated medical conditions may result in unfortunate consequences.
Women immigrants make up a large part of all immigrants that come to the United States. Nearly half of the world’s migrants are women and girls; therefore, attention considering the healthcare level and approach to the patient should not be neglected (“Health Coverage of Immigrants”, 2019). It is vital to give more recognition to the issues of unqualified healthcare service toward the newcomers and treat them no differently than native citizens.
Immigrant women have many restrictions, and when it comes to accessing professional health care, federal law restricts a significant amount of immigrants to take part in means-tested benefit programs, such as Medicaid, in their first five years of legal status. In 2017 only 29% of immigrants were eligible for the Medicaid program. A large number of immigrants who qualify for this program remain uninsured because of many fears they have, such as language barriers, confusion about the documentation, or inability to navigate the enrollment (“Health Coverage of Immigrants”, 2019). Such challenges are an everyday routine for immigrant women, and because of such a vague understanding of documentation and no available help with that, most people result in neglecting the idea of getting high-quality health coverage.
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The Psychosocial Needs of Immigrant Women
Women, who had to face immigration, come to a new country with high hopes and expectations of a better life. However, in most cases, immigrants do not meet those expectations. Studies continually show that psychological well-being among immigrant women is dependent on social support (Bengs, Hägglund, Wiklund-Engblom, Majors, & Ashfaq, 2017). To feel comfortable and satisfied in an entirely new environment, it is vital to fulfill basic psychological needs, which becomes a challenge for most immigrant women. In the study by Bengs et al. (2017), ten psychological needs were defined.
After their analysis, the primary psychological needs of immigrant women were clear. Foremost, the autonomy need is the one that assures the women of their control over the situation and makes them feel that no external factors influence their decision. It is a known fact that immigrants are often dependent on the external factors and are always in jeopardy of the deportation fear. Immigrant women also need assurance in the future and the future of their families; this is an essential component of psychological security needs.
Feeling safe and in control of your life and the life of your closest people rather than feeling uncertain and threatened by external circumstances defines the need for security (Bengs et al., 2017). The need for relatedness is more than applicable to immigrant women. This need is fulfilled when a person has regular communication with supportive and caring surroundings. Immigrant women are more self-conscious to make new acquaintances in the unknown environment due to the fear of being unaccepted, so social inclusion and constant mental support can make a significant impact on their mental state.
Therefore, fulfilling the need for relatedness is essential for the comfortable well-being of immigrant women. Ultimately, the psychological needs of immigrant women mostly depend on the assurance of the future and feeling accepted by society, rather than having popularity or physical thrive, which might be necessary for other individuals. Lack of fulfilling such needs may result in severe mental health problems, depression, and isolation.
Issues impacting culturally competent care delivery for immigrant women
Different cultural competency can affect the experience of immigrants in the doctor’s office. It is a vital factor and the fundament for a trustworthy relationship between the patient and the doctor. Furthermore, for women immigrants, more constituents are influencing their willingness to seek medical help than any other minority. Such factors include the physician’s degree of cultural awareness, the gender of the physician, and even the communication of guidelines by the doctor to the patient (Ng, 2017). In many cases, practitioners may unintentionally offend or misunderstand immigrant people, so learning about cultural competence is essential for any person in healthcare.
Lack of awareness about cultural differences often results in misunderstandings that influence future treatment. Moreover, failure to distinguish vital socio-cultural factors in the patients can possibly affect the prescription of a sustainable treatment even in the cases of the most specific diagnosis. For instance, many immigrant women with post-partum depression faced the lack of understanding and insufficient knowledge about the particular life circumstances of immigrant groups from the healthcare workers, which resulted in inappropriate assessments and built up many difficulties for the treatment.
Doctors must make their patients comfortable and radiate the feeling of trust and equality, especially with immigrants. Ng (2017) reports that Vietnamese immigrant women in Canada feel uncomfortable or scared to ask for more detailed information because of that feeling of entirely different social statuses and impressions of disregard. Vietnamese women have the idea that asking for more information would result in them showing the health practitioner his incompetency. Therefore, healthcare personnel must assure in the full comfortability of their patients and make cultural competency an essential part of a doctor’s qualification.
The associated culturally and ethically competent care methods the NP will employ in caring for immigrant women
The lack of cultural competence and ethnic awareness among healthcare practitioners is undeniably evident. Therefore, before implementing any methods, which aim to help immigrants, the healthcare system must teach the personnel to treat this specific minority appropriately and with proper respect. A set of seminars or lectures that must be taken by any worker in the healthcare sphere should be created. Such mandatory events will help gain awareness of specific methods of approaching and treating such patients as immigrant women. It is crucial to make these women feel comfortable and safe, as well as assure them of highly effective treatment methods.
Such an issue may be problematic, as some immigrant women believe that there are much better methods of treatment according to their cultural beliefs and may think that a healthcare system in the country is not so effective. Therefore, the ability to identify cultural differences and methods of finding compromises should be obtained by every qualified nurse practitioner in order to improve the level of healthcare services (Ng, 2017).
Proper communication is the first step to gaining the respect of people of other cultures and assuring the right treatment methods for them. According to Ng (2017), in some cases, when Korean immigrants had struggled to understand what a healthcare provider was telling them, they decided to avoid seeking health services because of the language barrier. Even a simple task like finding the nearest healthcare service or calling to make an appointment becomes a challenge for an immigrant who has a language barrier. That leads to the idea of hiring bilingual people who could translate and accurately tell a patient the detailed instructions. Especially in healthcare, the details may be crucial to one’s diagnosis, and leaving people unclear about their health condition may result in inefficient treatment.
In conclusion, more attention needs to be brought to the providing of proper healthcare to immigrant women as they are susceptible to a vulnerable group of citizens. More than half of all newcomers are women, so neglect and restrictions that they have to face in order to be provided with good-quality healthcare is unacceptable. It is disappointing to see the statistics on how many women are unable to receive medical insurance because of their fears.
Still, the government is not helping them overcome it in any way. Every minority should be treated equally, and healthcare providers must be culturally competent in order to provide the best service to the immigrants. Several methods may be used by nurse practitioners to improve the delivery of medical services for immigrant women. Health departments should be reconsidering existing laws and restrictions that restrain immigrant women from their deserved tight for healthcare.
Bengs, A., Hägglund, S., Wiklund-Engblom, A., Majors, J., & Ashfaq, A. (2017). Designing for social inclusion of immigrant women: the case of TeaTime. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 31(2), 106–124. Web.
Delara, M. (2016). Social determinants of immigrant women’s mental health. Advances in Public Health, 2016, 1–11. Web.
Health Coverage of Immigrants. (2019). Web.
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Ng, G. (August 2017). Accessing Healthcare: Influences on Utilization Among Asian Immigrant Women (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository). Web.