A Perfect Time of Year for Reflection and Equity
December 6, 2013
The holidays are upon us. What an opportune time to reflect on the goals of equity of care. Religion is an important contributor to cultural competency. In our focus on health care disparities, we often overlook this fact when we think about race, ethnicity and language preference. However, in a country where 92 percent of residents believe in God, religious beliefs and practices can have a strong impact on the health care decisions that patients and families make. Religion is a lens through which both health care practitioners and patients experience a health care encounter in areas such as modesty, acceptance of drugs and procedures, reproductive health and end-of-life decisions.
As we rush to wrap up our work before the end of the year, we should take just a moment to think about religion and its impact on our efforts within equity. It can be daunting at times to imagine the myriad factors that go into culturally competent care, but the goal is clear – care that is individualized to the unique needs of the patient. To facilitate in this process, the Institute will be offering a webinar, Addressing Religious Diversity in Health Care, on Tuesday, December 10 at noon CT, (1:00 p.m. ET). In this 90-minute session, Lynn Stoller, senior program associate at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, will discuss the multi-layered role that religion plays in a health care setting. She will also offer recommendations on how health care leaders and diversity professionals can effectively and respectfully address the religious needs of both patients and employees.
I hope you can join us for this webinar, but regardless, it is important to appreciate that even to have this conversation as a society is a sign that we are making progress. Often, when a problem is examined in detail, whether it is health care disparities or a lack of diversity, it may ‘grow’ because we are truly examining it for the first time. Learning all the facets that go into cultural competency will take time. Indeed, it is more than just race and ethnicity – which is why it’s vital for all of us to share in the conversation and learn new approaches towards improvement, including religious diversity.
As the New Year approaches, let’s enjoy some time for reflection and, hopefully, reenergize for the coming year. While there is still much work to be done, we are making progress and are fortunate to have a community of committed individuals, experts and leaders helping us move the dial forward on equity of care.
President & CEO
Institute for Diversity in Health Management