Exploring the Importance of Cultural Competence for Physical TherapistsWendy Grieco
Cultural competence is the ability to understand how behaviors and attitudes coincide with cultural issues. In your physical therapy continuing education, you will focus on cross-cultural relations to implement new policies, training guidelines, and development activities.
Why Is Cultural Competence Important?
Physical therapists must have a solid understanding of cultural competence to grasp the impact of family and socioeconomic status on decision-making. Every professional in a medically related field must have a firm comprehension of why people make important choices for their health.
Cultural competence is beneficial because it can prevent non-discriminatory practice based on factors like race, age, ethnicity, religion, and social status. The types of health issues people experience can differ across socioeconomic conditions, for instance, so developing an understanding of these health issues is vital.
This trait is also essential for physical therapists who want to communicate effectively with their clients. Physical therapists must be able to convey information clearly and concisely in layman’s terms.
Principles of a Culturally Competent Physical Therapist
A culturally competent physical therapist is one who understands cross-cultural relations beyond what they learn in a physical therapy continuing education classroom. The fact of the matter is that minorities in America experience differences when it comes to healthcare quality.
Physical therapists must possess the ability to listen in order to foster successful communication. Many patients develop a belief that their doctors do not necessarily listen to or understand them. Language barriers are widespread, even among people who speak English well.
Mutual respect and understanding must exist between a patient and a physical therapist. Many patients do not automatically trust healthcare providers because they have been victims of discrimination and stereotyping in the past. Feelings of mistrust may act as roadblocks to building relationships with patients.
Socioeconomic systems also come into play when you address the cost of physical therapy treatments. Many patients will be unable to pay for treatment out of pocket, and others may have services denied through government programs like Medicare or Medicaid. Reacting with compassion rather than frustration is crucial.
Finally, culturally competent physical therapists understand the differences that exist in the self-care of patients. Patients may have different ideas about which therapies they deem acceptable as a treatment. Physical therapists must address therapies that seem complicated and difficult to explain to non-professionals, for instance.
How Physical Therapists Become Culturally Competent
Becoming a culturally competent physical therapist rests on the willingness to pursue mutual understanding with patients. Therapists must also be willing to realize that, regarding cultural knowledge, there is no finish line. Cultural competency is an ongoing process.
Physical therapy continuing education is one way to learn how to manage strong relationships with patients. Coursework can help you become more culturally competent. Physical Therapy Courses online can help. Sign up today to learn about expanding your role as a physical therapist.