DiversityNursing Blog

A More Diverse America Needs Health Care Adjustments

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 15, 2017 @ 04:02 PM

0209-tiled-flag-of-american-diversity.jpgHow can you properly care for a patient if you don’t understand their personal needs? Communication is key. Making a patient comfortable goes far beyond providing warm blankets. It is about the patient trusting you and knowing you have things in common that show them you understand how they feel and what they need. 

Many healthcare providers are seeing how important diversity and inclusion is to delivering quality patient care. Hospitals are providing language services by hiring a diverse staff, many of whom are bilingual or multilingual. Culturally appropriate care strategies are also key. Religious views may alter the way staff would normally provide care. That means you might assist a patient who needs to move in order to pray or work out special blood testing times to allow the patient to fast. The population is rapidly changing and by 2050, the white population will no longer be the majority.

On any given day at the Salud Clinic, Lucrecia Maas might see 22 patients. They come to the community health center tucked away in an office park here needing cavities filled, prescriptions renewed and babies vaccinated. When they start to speak, it’s rarely in English. Sometimes it’s Hindi. Or Dari. Or Hmong. Or Russian.

Maas is fluent in English and Spanish, but that gets her only so far. She often has to hop on the phone with a medical interpreter, who relays her questions to the patient and then translates the patient’s answers. “It just takes a little more time,” the nurse practitioner said. 

The future of American health care looks a lot more like the Salud clinic than Norman Rockwell’s iconic small-town doctor’s office. The country is on course to lose its white majority around 2050. That future is already visible in Sacramento County and neighboring Yolo County, where West Sacramento is located: by 2013 the combined population of Hispanic, black, Asian and other nonwhite residents had edged out whites. In West Sacramento, a historically working-class county across the river from the state capital, more than 2 out of 5 public schoolchildren already speak a language other than English at home.

Sacramento-area hospitals, community health centers and doctor’s offices have had to adapt. They’ve hired more multilingual, bicultural staff. They’ve contracted with interpretation services. The medical school at the University of California, Davis, is trying to figure out how to recruit more Latino students to a profession that remains largely white and Asian. And doctors are being trained to deliver culturally appropriate care to patients of many backgrounds. 

When a diabetic pregnant Afghan woman wanted to fast during Ramadan, the Salud Clinic’s nutritionist recalculated the best time of day to measure her blood sugar. If Mexican mothers say they’re rubbing gentian violet on their baby’s umbilical cord area to keep it clean — a harmless natural remedy — doctors encourage them to keep doing so.

Similar stories are playing out across California, which became majority minority in 2000. Health systems are using new data tools to get a better handle on just who they’re serving — and where the trend lines are pointing. County health departments, nonprofits and clinics have invested in recruiting and training bilingual community health workers.

Insurance doesn’t always pay for the extra costs of services like translation. Patient visits take extra time, straining schedules for doctors and nurses. “You can’t really help somebody if you don’t understand how they value health, and how they understand health and the health care system,” says Robin Affrime, CEO of CommuniCare Health Centers, the nonprofit that operates the Salud Clinic.

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Immigrants Drive Change

Most of the nation’s population growth since the 1960s has come from the immigration of nearly 59 million people from foreign countries who settled in the U.S. in that time, mostly from Latin America and Asia, according to the Pew Research Center. (The Pew Charitable Trusts funds the Pew Research Center and Stateline.)   

Hispanic, black, Asian and multiracial babies in the United States already outnumber white babies. In three years’ time, a majority of U.S. children and teenagers will be some race other than non-Hispanic white. And in about 30 years, whites will cease to be the national majority, demographers say.

A more diverse patient population may mean a different mix of health conditions, because some are linked to country of origin. People who were born in Asia are particularly prone to hepatitis B, for instance. African-Americans are more likely to have sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disorder more common in Africa, the Middle East, India, and parts of southern Europe and Latin America. 

Asians and Hispanics — the groups likely to drive population increase going forward — have longer life expectancies than whites. Hispanics are less likely to suffer from many chronic conditions than whites even though they’re typically poorer and less educated.

Yet second- and third-generation Hispanic-Americans are often less healthy than their immigrant parents. One theory is that with assimilation, younger generations pick up bad American habits such as eating fast food and not getting enough exercise. And health continues to vary by subgroup. For instance, Californians with roots in Mexico are much more likely to be obese than Californians with roots in Puerto Rico, survey data show.

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Health Challenges

One of the challenges facing health care providers is obvious: many new immigrants can’t speak English. About 60 million Americans speak a language other than English at home and about 25 million can’t speak English very well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Salud doesn’t typically bring in in-person interpreters, because they’re more expensive. But it does contract with a phone interpretation service, a business that’s growing rapidly across the county. The service provides real-time translation between English and at least 12 other languages. Interpretation of some of the less common languages, like Hmong, needs to be scheduled in advance. And there have been instances in which the interpreter speaks the wrong dialect of a language like Dari, spoken in several countries in Central Asia.

Often a staff member can help. The health center has doctors and nurses who speak Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Tagalog and Spanish, and has hired administrative staff and medical assistants who speak Hmong and Mien, a language spoken by some Indochinese refugees who fled to the United States during the Vietnam War.

But Mien has no written language. And some cultures and languages have concepts that defy easy translation. “There are some words where we really cannot use the translator,” said Rubina Saini, a Salud physician who speaks several South Asian languages.

Other clinics don’t do as well as Salud. Under federal civil rights law, hospitals, nursing homes and other providers that receive federal funding must take reasonable steps to accommodate patients who can’t speak English well. But the legal requirement isn’t well-enforced and services can be spotty. “Where people need language services isn’t necessarily where they’re being offered,” says Melody Schiaffino, an assistant professor at San Diego State University’s Graduate School of Public Health.  

In a recent study, Schiaffino found that about 30 percent of all hospitals nationwide don’t offer translation services. The share is even larger for public safety-net and for-profit hospitals, even in diverse cities. That’s because the government hospitals can’t afford to do so, she said, and for-profit hospitals tend to serve well-insured patients who speak English.

State policy helps determine who gets interpretation and translation help. Only 15 states directly pay for interpreters needed by Medicaid patients. California isn’t one of them, although a 2009 task force created by the state Department of Health Services recommended the change. (California does require private health insurers to provide — although not necessarily pay for — language services. The state also requires health plans in its state Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, to translate certain written materials into common languages.)

Most Salud Clinic patients have a Medi-Cal insurance plan that will cover the cost of interpretation, Donna Paul, the clinic manager, says. If a patient doesn’t have coverage, CommuniCare Health Centers absorbs the cost.

Then there’s the need to navigate cultural differences. The front-office staff knows that Southeast Asians may be uncomfortable making direct eye contact, and that Russians may speak loud and fast, Paul said. They’ve learned not to take such things personally.

Ethnic Disparities     

Treating a more diverse population also means confronting gaps in care that go beyond socioeconomic status. African-Americans, and in some cases Hispanics, tend to receive lower-quality care than whites even after controlling for income, age and symptoms, according to an often cited 2003 report by the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine). Black patients are less likely to be prescribed pain medication than white patients, for instance, and less likely to receive antiretroviral drugs if they’re HIV positive.

There’s no simple reason for the gap in quality, which still persists, although researchers say unconscious bias or stereotyping by physicians, cultural and language gaps, and even geography play a role. “Race and ethnicity matter, whether you like it or not,” says David Acosta, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at the University of California, Davis, health system.

To erase the gap, medical schools are adopting strategies to better prepare the next generation of doctors. One of these is to recruit and train more minority students. The second is to train all students to examine their own biases and be more sensitive to cultural differences.

In California, where almost 40 percent of residents are Latino, 4 percent of physicians are. Nearly 20 percent of all physicians in the state speak Spanish, but Acosta says bilingualism isn’t enough. As a Latino physician, he says he’s bilingual and bicultural, familiar with his Hispanic patients’ approach to health, such as the folk remedies they might try. That kind of cultural match improves trust between doctors and patients.

Black and Hispanic physicians are also underrepresented in the physician workforcenationwide. Increasing their numbers could also help ease the shortage of primary care physicians, Acosta said, because black and Hispanic physicians are more likely than white and Asian physicians to provide primary care to low-income minority communities desperately short on doctors.

UC Davis launched an effort to recruit more Latino students to health careers last summer, funded by the Permanente Medical Group, a physician group that works with Kaiser Permanente.

The UC Davis program, called Prep Médico, is aimed at undergraduates from northern and central California and starts with a summer session at the UC Davis medical school. Participants get ongoing support from mentors, access to research opportunities, and help studying for the medical school admissions exam.

Once students reach medical school, they need to be trained to treat patients of a different race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status than their own. Twenty-one states, including California, have adopted health equity standardsthat help guide physician training.

But there’s a debate over how best to teach so-called cultural competency. The concept is often presented to students like another task to master or acronym to memorize, said Jann Murray-García, an assistant adjunct professor at UC Davis’ school of nursing. But it’s not something you can memorize with flashcards. “There’s just no way to master the complexities of other people’s lives and personhoods,” she says. And recognizing one’s own racial biases and stereotypes, and learning how to deliver good care despite them, can be a lifelong process, she says.

Crunching Data

Kaiser Permanente has turned to data, to make sure these new populations are getting the care they need.

For more than a decade, the organization has broken down its quality of care data by race, gender and ethnicity and used it as a guide to drive health care priorities, with a goal of narrowing health care disparities.

For example, African-Americans are more likely than whites to have very high blood pressure and — partly as a result — to suffer from strokes, heart disease and end-stage kidney disease. First, Kaiser’s analysts figured out what the gap looked like for their own patients. Then they created a new set of instructions for care teams, informed partly by patient focus groups.

Among other changes, physicians were asked to prescribe African-Americans medications proven to be more effective for them. Physicians, nurses and other health workers took additional care to listen to patients, follow up, and nudge them to stay on top of their treatment plan. The effort has paid off: Since 2013, Kaiser has cut the high blood pressure control gap between its African-American and white patients in half.

Health systems can use data to improve their language services, too, says Glenn Flores, a physician and chair of health policy research at Medica Research Institute, a nonprofit research group. All it takes is asking new patients a few questions to check their English fluency, and noting what other languages they speak. That way clinics and hospital systems can arrange for in-person interpreters ahead of time for patients who need them and figure out which languages are essential when they are hiring staff or contracting for medical translation services. “Very few hospitals around the country do this,” he says. 

Nationally, health data need to more accurately capture racial and ethnic subgroups, says Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. The “Asian and Pacific Islander” category used by the U.S. Census Bureau, for instance, encompasses everyone from third-generation Chinese-Americans to Pakistani engineers to Cambodian refugees. People with origins in the Middle East have no U.S. Census designation of their own, and can self-identify as white, Asian, African or “other.” Without more specific data, it’s hard to know what problems local communities have and what services they need, Ko Chin says.

California policymakers have unusually detailed data at their fingertips thanks to the California Health Interview Survey, conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles. Researchers have been able to tease out findings that can inform better care, such as the fact that Korean women are much less likely to receive mammograms than Japanese women in the state.

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Topics: hiring, cultural competence, Diversity and Inclusion

Your Hiring Approach Should Drive Inclusivity

Posted by Pat Magrath

Fri, Feb 10, 2017 @ 03:37 PM

inclusive.jpgRecruiting these days is getting more and more difficult, particularly when hiring Nurses. We’re featuring this article because of its creative approach to thinking outside the box. Perhaps it’s time to change your message, how and where you target that message, and maybe even the position requirements.

For this particular company featured in the article, a college degree and sales experience had always been required for its Sales Development Reps (SDR). The author was promoted to Sales Development Manager. He wanted to hire a different type of Sales Rep -- someone with no sales experience or college degree, but was hungry to learn and grow. The Sales Rep job is a tough job and he knew the burnout rate was high.

Once he removed the degree and experience requirements, he found his applicant pool became more diverse. To quote the author “If you have a role at your organization that doesn’t require previous experience, be intentional about your recruiting. Use it as an opportunity to shift the demographic makeup of your company.”

As a Nurse Recruiter, we know you have degree and experience requirements for many of your positions, but perhaps this article will inspire you to make some positive changes to reach your hiring goals. Good luck!  

A few weeks into my first year as Jhana’s Sales Development Manager, a realization hit me.

Because I was a hiring manager recruiting for a role that required no previous experience or college degree, I was in a unique position to drive diversity and inclusion at my company.

Almost every corporate job requires a college degree, and many also require previous experience in a similar role—big hurdles for someone from an underserved community. The Sales Development Rep (a.k.a. SDR), however, is one of the few jobs that allow someone without relevant work experience or a college degree to break into corporate America.

College Degree Not Required

SDRs at Jhana fill an entry-level role. They don’t do cold calling but instead use a series of template-based emails to set up introductory sales calls for our Account Executives. Still, many companies require a college degree for the role, whether they state it explicitly or not.

When I first deleted “Bachelor’s Degree” from the job description, it felt a bit radical. It even felt like I was doing something wrong. But as I examined why I had included it in the first place, I realized I couldn’t think of a single good reason.

It was purely reflexive.

Removing “Bachelor’s degree required” was the first step towards attracting a more diverse and inclusive candidate pool.

Why I prefer SDRs With No Previous Experience

Here’s something that I find interesting: Jhana’s current sales development team is the most productive lead-generation team the company has ever had. However, if our current SDRs had applied for the job two years ago, they would have been rejected.

In the past, we required 1 to 2 years of previous SDR experience to qualify for even a phone screening. Thankfully, we’ve since made dramatic changes to our SDR hiring strategy, which have made recruiting not only faster but much more inclusive.

Soon after I was promoted to Sales Development Manager, I argued that we would actually get better SDRs if we recruited candidates with zero SDR experience. It was not a popular idea at the time. Never before had we hired for any role at Jhana and not asked for previous experience.

But anyone who has done the job knows that SDR work is grueling. It’s tedious. It takes perseverance. If a candidate left a company after being an SDR there, I could pretty much bet that he or she wanted to leave not just that company but the SDR role itself. I hypothesized that having 1 to 2 years of previous SDR experience actually hampered motivation and productivity.

So as Jhana’s first Sales Development Manager, I set out to hire a very different type of SDR. I didn’t want people with previous experience in the job.

Instead, I looked for grit. I looked for candidates who had work or life experiences that showed determination. I also looked—very much intentionally—for candidates who could add to Jhana’s diversity.

In 6 months, SDR productivity (as measured by the volume of cold emails sent, meaning emails sent to prospects with whom you’ve had no previous contact) increased by 100% and the number of discovery calls (introductory sales calls between the prospect and an Account Executive) increased by 60%.

Grab the Opportunity to Drive Diversity and Inclusion

By not requiring previous experience or a college degree, you not only dramatically grow your potential candidate pool, but you open up a huge opportunity from a diversity and inclusion perspective.

Let me put it plainly: If you have a role at your organization that doesn’t require previous experience, be intentional about your recruiting. Use it as an opportunity to shift the demographic makeup of your company.

Now, this doesn’t mean that your job as a hiring manager will get easier. In fact, it will probably get harder.

You’ll have to read more resumes.

You’ll have to do more phone screenings.

You’ll have to ask better interview questions.

You’ll have to become excellent at training new SDRs.

You’ll have to build well-oiled processes so that orientation and onboarding happens quickly.

So why do this?

Because you’ll build a better lead-generation engine.

Because you’ll help build a company that’s more diverse.

Because it’s the right thing to do.

As a hiring manager, you are entrusted with the rare opportunity to give jobs. Why not be intentional about how you use that responsibility? Why not think differently about how and who you recruit? Why not try to create social change, one hire at a time?

We can help with your hiring needs! 
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Topics: hiring, Diversity and Inclusion

Your hospital isn't deliberate about diversity in leadership? Meet Antoinette Hardy-Waller, the woman out to change that

Posted by Pat Magrath

Tue, Feb 07, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

ahw.jpgDiversityNursing.com would like to share this article with you. It features an interview with Antoinette Hardy-Waller, an extremely knowledgeable leader in the field of healthcare and Nursing. She is “devoted to advancing African Americans in executive, governance and entrepreneurial roles in healthcare.”
 
While many healthcare organizations have a commitment to diversity, inclusion and cultural competency in their workforce and patient care, her point is, it’s imperative to have diversity in the top ranks where decisions are made. Read on for important details.
 
Antoinette Hardy-Waller has worked in healthcare for more than 25 years. She's spent time as a nurse, home care business owner, board member for a major national health system, and consultant. Yet of all of her experiences, it is the time and energy she pours into The Leverage Network that she considers "passion work."
 
 
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Becker's Hospital Review is the original producer/publisher of part of this content.
 

Topics: diversity, Diversity and Inclusion, hospital diversity, leadership diversity

3 Ways a CDO Can Help a Hospital Workforce

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Sep 22, 2016 @ 03:33 PM

embracediversity.pngChief Diversity Officers can make a hospital a more welcoming place for employees and the patient's they serve. It takes many steps for a CDO to make that possible. Continue reading to learn more about how CDO's can help your healthcare organization. 

Workplace harassment complaints. Recruiting a diverse workforce. Cultural competency training. These are matters that traditionally fall under HR, but healthcare organizations are increasingly relying on professionals with specialized skills to work on these sensitive and important issues.

Enter the chief diversity officer, or CDO.

As the country grows not only more ethnically diverse but more diverse in personal beliefs, regional origin and identification, and disability status, the demand for leaders who specialize in creating dialogues between people with differences will increase, says Oliver B. Tomlin, III, senior partner at search firm Witt/Kieffer and founding member of National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. He has assisted with several CDO searches.

Below are several functions a CDO might play to make a hospital a more welcoming place both to workers and the community they serve:

1. Make Sure Everyone is Heard

Many of us can remember attending a party or other event where we didn't fit in, possibly because of differences between ourselves and others.

A CDO specializes in being the person who makes sure workers don't have to feel uncomfortable about what makes them unique, and that they can bring their "whole selves" to work, says Deborah L. Plummer, PhD, vice chancellor and chief diversity officer at University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Healthcare.

"If everyone feels they can bring their whole self to work and they feel like differences are respected, it can make the workplace richer and stronger," Plummer says.

"Then, we are able to come together and work in diverse teams, and are able to solve challenges with our collective wisdom."

2. Teach Awareness

What's the next step that will lead toward improved patient satisfaction and both clinician and worker retention? Teaching the workforce to be sensitive to and accepting of the differences that are inherent to a diverse organization or in a diverse community.   

Sometimes it's not always easy to gain the trust of people when there are differences involved, especially in light of healthcare disparities members of minority groups often experience, says Tomlin, but educating a workforce can help.

Plummer suggests offering regular inclusion events, hosting employee and community research groups, and familiarizing hospital leadership with hot topics in the workforce and within the community.

She also suggests that CDOs organize training sessions around current topics, such as:

  • LGBT-related issues
  • Sexual harassment
  • Building an inclusive workforce
  • Cultural competency education

3. Devise and Implement Inclusion Strategies

Diversity and inclusion aren't easy topics to tackle, says Plummer. "There has to be someone who gets up every morning thinking about the complexity of these differences."

A CDO can fit that bill.

Plummer makes it clear that she believes HR is "necessary and great function. [It keeps] the trains running." But appointing a leader to specialize in diversity makes sense.

"I can say that the space of diversity is more about people strategy and management, while HR is about the employee, and their employment relationship to the organization," she says.

A CDO will be able to prioritize diversity matters above all else; these hot topics will have their full attention. Far from being just another C-suiter, the CDO has potential to be a mediator, a teacher, an outreach coordinator, and someone who helps make your hospital a more comfortable place for everyone.

If you have any questions about Chief Diversity Officers, Diversity and Inclusion, or just a general question, please ask one of our Nurse Leaders by clicking below! 

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