The cultural dissonance can have tragic results for individuals who are trapped between the boundaries of two opposing cultures. The culture difference hence is depicted between Lia Lee’s parents and her doctors. She eventually ends up in a vegetative state for many years not because no one really cares about her epilepsy, but because of cultural and linguistic barriers between her parents who are Hmong and the well meaning American doctors. Linguistically, her Hmong parents do not understand English spoken by the doctors at Ann Fadiman‘s book can be taken to generally act as a warning conflict in our society today in the face of cultural and language diversities.
There are many problems that arise in the field of medicine as a result of differences between the health providers and the patients in terms of culture. Ones culture has to do with his /her language, ways of thinking, beliefs, values, and ethnicity. It is important to take into consideration the issue of culture of the people we interact with so as to understand them. Hence health providers need to be competent in cross-cultural communications so as to avoid communication problems while on duty as a result of cultural diversities in our society today.
In my view I would consider Dr.Jack Drescher as the most successful cross-cultural communicator. In his contributions to in the journal, Virtual Mentor (2006), he makes several observations on how health providers should handle themselves in the face of increased complexities that are surrounding the profession. These include the burning issues such as the questions of stem cell research, abortion among others. Not to be left unmentioned is the issue of the physician-patient relationship .Dr. Drescher maintains that medical providers must adhere to the ethics and principles of medicine as a profession. The application of necessary codes is vital as it ensures creation of accommodating environments for communication. According to me issue of ethics and principles in interactions is very vital as it helps build and maintain healthy relationships in the provision of health services.
He maintains that values of the profession are very vital and that it is a commitment that one makes in life. Warning and castigation is also given by him to those who enter the profession will other motives. To him the medicine as a professional stands out as a service to the sick individuals in the society or the society as a whole to better it. It of course true that the medicine men cannot put themselves in situations where they compromise themselves by engaging in activities that is not in line with the profession. An example can be a case where on enters the field of medicine with a view to enrich himself or herself.
In his opinion the doctor puts it that it is important for a doctor to learn more about a patient’s culture. This is to help the doctors to know about a patient better. This is supported by Warren Weaver who also states that it is important to understand ones culture as the first step towards creating a rapport write the owner of the culture. In this case a medical doctor will find it much easier to handle a patient well. What the Dr. Drescher and observe were true. Take the case of the novel of our reference .In the novel we find that Lea’s parents and the doctors do not understand one another due to ignorance about each other’s culture. For example the doctors do not know about the view held by that Laos the issue of epilepsy and the relation between the soul and life. What results is tragic story of ending up in a vegetative start for so many years. Her parents do not trust the medicine they are given by the doctors.
Values are seen by Dr. Jack Drencher as integral to a physician’s commitment to his or her profession. He adds that there may be clashes in values of the physicians and the patients. But when it carries to this it’s important for the physician to help create some self-awareness n the patient with a view of changing it in a positive way. This is only important when there is no language barrier. Edward Hall in his theory advocates for creation of self awareness among people in order to influence their behavior .This can be something of value if the Hmong could be made aware about some of their dangerous beliefs .In case of language barrier we can use translators.
As a great cross-cultural communicator is that he maintains that in case the patients fail to agree with values that are being given by the physician then the patient values being given prominence. Then ever also view values as being inherent in a given culture and that is in learning and respecting values that you gain more knowledge about others these values of patients are learnt through discussion with an in individual patient and in case there is a language barrier then it becomes important that a translator is involved. I support this view that respect for a patient’s values are vital because it does not only develop a sense of being respected but as create a good environment for exchange of information freely between the patient and the physician. The story of lee a transparent example of how it is failure to learn and understand ones values may hinder giving effective medical services. Both parties never understood one another
Another point that shows that the doctor is a great cross cultural communicator is that he prescribes for the need of the patient to be shown compassion during the healing process. He adds that in the process of doing this is important to show dignity and respect as well. Still this will call upon the doctor to discuss with the patient his values
The art of good listening is of value to the medical practitioners according to him it is only through listening that they will be able to learn in totality what surrounds the individual patient background in terms of religion, beliefs and cultural aspiration .Weaver is also proponent of this theory in has theory cultural organization he puts its that it is important to be in a position to listen to what people have to say in order to learn about their cultures I take this explanation as very important and relevant in the contemporary world which is full of cultural and linguistic varieties to develop good listening skills can lead to regrettable consequences as seen in the case of Lee’s as a result of parents and the doctors taking the wrong action because of their failure to listen to one another mainly due to language barrier this point can be advance to the next point which is to do with the language diversity
Both Dr. Drencher and Weaver stress the fact that knowing a common language is the first step towards knowing about the totality of one’s life as put by the doctor it is important for effective medication the physician should share a common language with the patient for easy diagnosis and prescription of medicine language barrier can lead to tragedy as shown in the book. In it language barrier leads wrong diagnosis and even wrong prescription Weaver adds in his theory that it is important for the provision of bilingual personnel in situation where they are needed. I agree with the two because this can lead to avoidance of many unpleasant occurrences just as we have witnessed in Lia’s tragic story.
On contrary to Dr. Jack remarkable achievement is Dr. Breck who is so shown to be imposing his own values on his patients. A classic instance is where he is visited by a gay patient. He wants him to change his behavior and goes as far as telling his parents about the same. What we have here is someone who goes contrary to the ethics of the medicine and paints himself as an intolerant health provider. He neither shows respect for his patient nor willingness to help.
As a health provider he comes out as someone who is not ready to appreciate the concept of individual difference. In his encounter with Karl he fails to see him as someone gay, hence different from other patients .He instead is ready to take him for an experiment. By doing so he contravenes the very principles and ethics of medicine as a profession which among other things spells out the necessity for patients to be treated differently as people with different beliefs, aspirations, attitudes, values and cultural uniqueness
There are some lessons of importance for those nursing the ambition of being health providers in the future. They must first that they need to remember the importance of culture as the main barrier to the provision of better health services in the United States of America .America today is saddled with varied culture hence the need for the health provider today to have cultural competence. In doing so, there will be easy access to the health facilities by the diversified American groups. We can example create a more accommodating health. If there is language barrier between the provider and the patient then it is logical that an interpreter be used so that there is proper communication between them which will eventually lead to better medical services to the patient.
It is also important for him/her to develop a good record keeping skills. This will make it easier keep correct medical records of different groups in the society based on race, age, sex among others. These kinds of records can help create a source of reference for similar health cases. In case of difference in language we can employ translators to help keep the records in language understood by the providers.
In conclusion it is important to take into consideration a people’s culture if you are to understand them be. It is also important to show them respect and dignity in the process of doing so to create accommodating environment for interaction.
Fadiman, Ann.The Spirit Catche You and You Fall Down. New York.Farrar, Straus & Groux, 1997.
Virtual Mentor: Ethics Journal of the American Medical Association. USA, 2006.