Author Archives: Jennifer McGee-Avila

Practicing Cultural Humility to Transform Health Care

Jun 21, 2018, 12:00 PM, Posted by Jennifer McGee-Avila

Moving beyond culture competency to cultural humility acknowledges patients’ authority over their own lived experience.

Jennifter McGee Avila, Yolanda Radovic Jennifer McGee-Avila (right) pictured with her mother, Yolanda Radovic.

Health care delivery often involves a one-size-fits-all approach. As clinicians, we treat a patient with a particular diagnosis similar to the last patient we saw with the same diagnosis because it’s efficient—we think. But shifting that mindset is one of the best opportunities we have to help people truly thrive. An individual’s lived experience is rich, diverse, and complicated. And what it takes for each individual to live his or her healthiest life possible is as unique as each person is. In other words, a patient’s full life experience should inform how we shape their treatment.

To achieve a deeper understanding of our patients, it is essential for providers to practice “cultural humility” and acknowledge the unique elements of every individual’s identity. Many of us may be familiar with cultural competency—being respectful and responsive to the health beliefs and practices—and cultural and linguistic needs—of diverse population groups.

But cultural humility goes even deeper. It requires you to step outside of yourself and be open to other people’s identities, in a way that acknowledges their authority over their own experiences.

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