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Cultural Issues in Patient Care

            When someone goes to the doctor, the least of their worries should be bringing up their health issues, to the doctor. Yet, when people go to the doctor, there tend to be a number of things preventing them from communicating clearly. Negotiating within a new culture, takes thought and understanding. 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, with 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 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 examine the methods used when training doctors to handle cultural differences in practicing medicine.
             As a part of my research I was assigned to shadow Dr. Elizabeth Nestor, 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 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. When in the exam room, Dr. Nestor always stood beside the patients bed, and her empathetic personality would remove any feelings of inferiority.

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