Why Should Healthcare Be Committed to Diversity in their Workforce?
Diversity within healthcare is essential in delivering competent and inclusive patient care. Individuals from all walks of life enter hospitals and clinics daily to seek medical care. To provide these individuals with the best medical care possible, we must be able to relate to them properly. The best way to ensure we can connect and communicate effectively with patients is to ensure that the healthcare staff is well diversified.
What is Diversity in Healthcare?
Diversity is reflected in healthcare by employing individuals from different backgrounds and walks of life. There are many ways healthcare staff can be diversified. A diversified workforce includes hiring persons of multiple races, ages, genders, ethnicities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, education levels, languages, and sexual orientations. Military service is also a unique quality that can often be overlooked to add to the diverse population of healthcare workers.
Is Healthcare Committed to Diversity in their Workforce?
Although there is much evidence to support that diversity within the healthcare workforce is beneficial for employees and the community, there is still a gap in healthcare diversity. The majority of Physicians are white males. Nurses tend to be predominately female.
Benefits of Diversity in Healthcare
There are many benefits to having a diverse workforce for the healthcare staff and patients. Some of those benefits include:
- Individualized Patient Care for Diverse Populations: When you have a patient seeking care and there is diversity within your healthcare staff, there is always someone on the healthcare team who can communicate and identify with them to ensure their needs are met.
- Increased Patient Trust: Patients seek medical care for a variety of reasons. Often, the reason for seeking care comes with a sense of anxiety. Studies have shown when patients can easily relate to their healthcare provider, there is better overall communication and better patient outcomes. It’s also been shown that when patients relate better to healthcare staff, they are more likely to continue with follow-up care and take part in preventative care measures.
- Improved Problem Solving: A wide range of perspectives from individuals of different backgrounds allows for better problem solving and creative solutions to problems. When creative minds come together from various perspectives, new ideas and innovations can be produced.
- Better Employee Retention and Morale: Employing a diverse community of healthcare workers can improve employee morale and make the workplace more enjoyable. Working for a company that takes pride in people of diverse populations positively impacts the workplace and the community.
Disadvantages of a Lack of Diversity
The disadvantages of a lack of diversity within healthcare can pose significant risks to healthcare delivery and result in poor patient outcomes. Some disadvantages include:
- Impaired Communication: Impaired communication occurs when there is a language barrier. Healthcare staff may not fully understand what a patient is trying to convey, and patients may be confused about the plan of care, leading to patient dissatisfaction and potential medical errors.
- Limited Perspectives: When healthcare staff lacks diversity, implicit bias can affect how healthcare is delivered to those of different backgrounds. Implicit bias is when healthcare workers unintentionally judge patients based on their different beliefs, customs, or cultures. Although implicit bias is not intentional, it can cause significant harm. Having a diverse healthcare staff decreases implicit biases by allowing for different perspectives while implementing care.
How can we Promote Diversity in Healthcare?
The only way to truly diversify healthcare professionals is to make medical education more attainable for people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. People seeking healthcare education should have access to feasible and affordable education.
Many students seeking medical education are not of the traditional college age. College students can range from working parents, people changing careers, or single parents seeking education on weekends or nights. Many people cannot dedicate days to a classroom setting. A great way to achieve a more diverse workforce is to improve upon and offer more online learning programs that are more accessible and affordable to various and diverse people.
The importance of diversity within the healthcare workforce is evident. When healthcare is more diversified, medicine itself becomes more culturally competent. All healthcare workplaces should strive to provide a diverse population of workers to improve overall patient outcomes and acquire better patient satisfaction.