Cultural Competence and Compassionate Care Amid a Public Health Crisis
In this month’s Editor’s Remarks I would like to call your attention to the recent protests regarding the inequities in our country. I know that we all the back the American Nurses Association (ANA) position stating that racism is a longstanding public health crisis that needs our ongoing attention.
I am also quite certain we all would also agree that all lives are of equal value and of equal worth. We strive to be culturally competent. But, are we? Please take this time to explore your feelings about this topic. I picked up an article again that I read two years ago by Atul Gawande in The New Yorker called “Curiosity and What Equality Really Means.” You can find it online and it speaks about the desire to understand and to be curious. These aspirations are the seeds of empathy. I know that we talk a lot about empathy and feeling it however, we may need to examine our internal compassion meter and do it.
I am also reminded of a recent story I read in the book, Compassionomics. In 2007, two buses collided on snowy highway in Sweden, killing six people and injuring 56 others. Five years later every one of these individuals was interviewed for a qualitative research study and what did they recall? Two things. Of course, they still remembered the pain they endured at the time of the incident. But they also remarked about the lack of compassion from the caregivers at the various hospitals they were taken to that day.
We have all heard the adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” So, the next time your homeless patient asks for a basin to wash his feet, will you oblige? Or the next time, the patient in the waiting room needs a blanket, will you offer her one first?
K. Sue Hoyt