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Cultural Issues in Patient Care

            When someone goes to the doctor the least of their worries should be getting across to the doctor any health related topics. Yet, when people go to the doctor there tend to be a number of things preventing them from getting out not just everything they want to but need to get across. Doctors see people at their most vulnerable. Negotiating a new culture takes thought and understanding, facilities that go away first when people feel fear and confusion. A huge contributor to the lack of communication between doctor and patient is the cultural incompetence amongst doctors. It is quite apparent that culture plays a large role in shaping each individual's values, beliefs, and behaviors in regards to their health. Though a part of their training, many doctors still have trouble working with many patients due to cultural differences. Cross- cultural issues that are not properly handled can result in negative consequences for both the patient and doctor. Also, the exam room can turn into a uncomfortable setting which may lead to less honest and full responses. With better communication between doctor and patient comes better care. As someone who has witnessed cultural incompetence in a hospital setting, I wanted to investigate more and examine the methods used when training doctors.
             As a part of my research I was assigned to shadow Dr. Elizabeth Nestor who is an Emergency Medicine doctor at the Rhode Island Hospital. Not only is she a wonderful doctor but she also uses her talents as a clinical professor here at Brown University. While observing Dr. Nestor, I noticed the many valuable things about her interactions with patients. She always entered the room with an immediate smile that was followed by a firm handshake. Dr. Nestor proved to be an excellent listener and a skilled communicator as well. She builds trust with her patients by keeping eye contact and paying very close attention to what the patient says.

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