Workplace Cultural Diversity Education

July 21, 2014 in Best of Both, leadership, management, work by MyBestofBothWorlds

Welcome Back to Management Mondays. This week we are going to explore the importance of workplace cultural diversity education and population specific education.

As a department director we are always preparing for one type of survey or another.  There are many regulations and bodies that oversee healthcare facilities today.  To prepare for these inspections, we do conduct mock tracers.  During a human resources tracer, we discussed the importance of cultural diversity education.  While I’m going to discuss radiology, the following can be applied to any staff members across industries as we all have external customers.

photo credit MorgueFile.com

photo credit MorgueFile.com

With constantly increasing demands for efficient state of the art imaging services by physicians, insurers and patients coupled with a growing national shortage of highly skilled technologists, developing a culturally inclusive workplace can differentiate mediocre imaging department from a high performing imaging department.  From a management perspective it makes great sense to ensure that staff members truly demonstrate a skill set by which all patient populations can feel comfortable.

Radiographers bring their own personal cultural heritage as well as the cultural and philosophical views of their education into the professional setting.  Therefore, it is important for the technologist to understand that patient encounters must be handled with a level of increased sensitivity.  I would recommend to all managers to look at the populations your department serves and educate your staff members based upon your findings.  In our department we have population (age) specific training for the following groups of patients: infants, children, adolescents, adults, and geriatrics.  Direct observation is used to ensure competency in selection of the appropriate technical factor, selection of the correct equipment (grid vs. non grid), positioning skills, radiation protection practices, and communication skills.  The supervisor observes the cases performed and the form is completed and signed by both parties.  Additionally a multiple choice test is given based on these specific population needs and characteristics.  All technologists must pass this exam with a minimum grade of 80%.  These competencies are performed as part of the annual evaluation process.

photo credit Moruguefile.com

photo credit Moruguefile.com

We have a very successful highly rated bariatric surgery program at our facility, which means all the patients that have this type of surgery will be seen in our department, one day post-op for a limited upper GI.  It is very important that we treat these individuals with the respect and dignity they deserve.  Additionally, our staff members must be aware of weight limitations, not only on the radiographic equipment, but in the bathrooms, the seating areas etc.  We have developed a self learning reading packet which includes / reviews special revisions we have made through out our facility to accommodate our bariatric population.  The technologist is required to take a multiple choice examination at the end of the packet, which will be graded.  Again, 80% is required to pass the examination and this too is performed on an annual basis.

photo credit Morguefile.com

photo credit Morguefile.com

Our human resources department as part of the annual mandatory competencies, have included materials focused on the cultural characteristics, health care beliefs and practices.  The material is formatted into a grid which identifies the specific cultural group, their typical communication styles, their typical family, social and work relationships, health values / beliefs and finally, health customs and practices.  Again based on the materials a multiple choice test is given and graded.

Now with all that said, getting past the requirements for a survey are imperative, however more important is how we make the patient and their families feel when they are in our care.  If that means your technologists can do simple things like assess the patient and provide a bariatric gown instead of a regular size gown-that goes along way to patient satisfaction.  Now the larger patient is not embarrassed by having to request a gown when the typical size one doesn’t fit.  Patient satisfaction is improved.  Same story when your technologist can communicate effectively to distract and encourage a 6-year-old during an exam.  The parents of that child will be satisfied that their child was well cared for while in your department.  Exhibiting kindness to the elderly patient with thin tissue like skin, is demonstrated by putting a sheet between them and where the tape will be applied to assist them in maintaining the position.

At the end of the day, patients expect good outcomes, so in their mind that is already a given.  What we are judged upon is our ability to communicate and make them comfortable during their time in our department.  Perhaps the patients won’t be able to identify that what is being demonstrated is a core competency related to cultural diversity, however what they will remember and tell their friends and families is how they FELT cared for during their time with in our department. And that means they will be loyal and return to us for future imaging needs.