The Importance of Cultural Awareness in Healthcare

Practically everywhere is a lot more diverse than it used to be. With people from all over the world immigrating to other areas, healthcare providers must take steps to ensure facilities are culturally aware and trained to care for people from diverse backgrounds. Here are some tips for making healthcare more culturally aware.

Ensure good access to interpreters

Lack of communication between patients and providers can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes, a delay can have very serious consequences, including death. When every minute counts, it is critical that patients can let providers know exactly what their symptoms are and what is causing them the most trouble.

Patients or their loved ones also need to be able to inform healthcare providers of any preexisting conditions, current medications, allergies, and other pertinent information. This avoids problems such as drug interactions, misdiagnosis, etc.

In North America, Spanish is the most common foreign language. Many doctors and nurses take Spanish classes to help them provide a high level of care as efficiently as possible. Healthcare administrators should strive to encourage those who have yet to learn another language to take classes. At the very least, at least a few staff members should be on hand to lend interpretation skills when needed. To achieve this, hire some providers that speak the most common foreign languages in your area.

Train staff to be aware of other customs and religions

Some cultures have strict rules and guidelines that can affect a patient’s medical decisions and preferences. These may be hard for some healthcare providers to understand or be empathetic towards; as a professional, at least some of those feelings need to be put aside while still performing your duties and fulfilling your oath to not harm.

For example, religious customs may lead to a patient requesting a doctor of a specific gender or refusing a particular medication or treatment for religious reasons. A medical facility should have some guidelines for the most common types of these situations for the dominant religions in their area. There should be information available for how nurses and other staff should approach any requests with which they are unfamiliar. This allows the patient’s religion, culture, and customs to be respected while reducing any delays in receiving the best care possible.

Offer food options for diverse diets

There has been a huge improvement in the types of foods that hospitals offer patients. This has been necessary, at least in part, due to food allergies. In addition, halal, kosher, and other culturally specific cuisines are available to patients.

On the other hand, it can be comforting to patients to have even more specific foods. Food services like Door Dash and Grub Hub will deliver culturally specific cuisine for a small fee in many areas. If a nurse, for example, wanted to make a patient feel more at ease, they could assist patients with ordering favorite foods during their stay.

Avoid visiting hour clashes

COVID-19 restrictions made hospital visitation difficult for many, but many have been lifted due to a decline in cases.

Some people need to have a family member or multiple family members stay with them at all times during their care. Traditional visiting hours are in place, to encourage patients to rest as much as possible. Set hours also allow fewer staff and time for specific duties necessary for patient and facility care. That being said, it is a good idea to have a relaxed visitor policy for those that want someone to stay with them all the time.

For example, many hospitals allow one family member or friend to stay overnight in maternity rooms. This encourages fathers and grandparents to spend time with the new family member and offer support and care to the mother.

Avoid unintended hard feelings and conflict

The risk of unknowingly offending someone or causing conflict in the workplace or in patient interactions is higher without good cultural awareness training. Many perceived slights and conflicts occur due to simple misunderstandings and the need for more knowledge.

Avoiding conflict is essential at any well-run medical facility. Conflict and animosity between patients or healthcare workers distract from providing good patient care. Cultural awareness training goes hand in hand with conflict resolution strategy in the workplace.

Increase the likelihood of someone seeking care

Better cultural awareness fosters improved relationships and facilitate trust among patients and staff. People are more likely to seek medical care rather than avoid it if they feel comfortable with a medical facility and staff in their area. A lack of trust can lead to people not seeking care until they cannot ignore their symptoms any longer.

The online FNP program at Baylor University is an excellent way to learn the skills you need to increase cultural awareness and trust at any healthcare facility. In addition, Baylor is always looking for ways to make sure their curriculum offers those seeking higher-level healthcare positions a variety of social and communication skills so they can offer optimal care and achieve total patient satisfaction.


Cultural awareness is essential to providing good patient care and creating a comfortable and inclusive work environment. When patients feel acknowledged and respected, they are more likely to seek the care they need sooner rather than later.

All healthcare workers must be offered cultural awareness training and clear guidelines for providing care to people from diverse backgrounds. A better understanding of others improves patient outcomes and avoids conflicts between patients and medical personnel.

As communities change and become more diverse, more guidelines and training may be needed at facilities. Hiring a diverse team of healthcare professionals can help facilitate more cultural awareness in the workplace and create a more comfortable healthcare experience for others.