One of the best things about working at iTi is the people you meet. One example of this is Nadesha Mijoba who possesses a wealth of knowledge about interpreting and about training medical interpreters. She is a leading expert on medical interpretation and has a tremendous commitment for quality of care and a passion for the field.
One major thing Nadesha strongly advocates for is better understanding in communication in the medical field. She tells her audiences that communication often dictates both the quality and quantity of services a patient receives. When a patient speaks little English and can't communicate well with medical staff, that patient may face a life-threatening experience.
This is a growing issue here in Connecticut where we're seeing greater and greater numbers of people who struggle to speak, understand and communicate in English. And we also have dedicated medical professionals who struggle to understand and communicate with their numerous non-English speaking patients.
Simple Things Become Difficult
Simple things like scheduling a doctor's appointment can be very difficult. The value of healthcare advice diminishes greatly when patient and medical staff don't speak the same language. Following treatment directions is hard when those directions aren't written in a language you know well. It can lead to patients receiving substandard care.
The barriers go beyond language to cultural beliefs. For example, in some cultures women are expected to be submissive and not question men. Thus, a woman might avoid asking a critical question about her treatment or a medication because the healthcare provider happens to be male.
Healthcare providers may not understand unique cultural beliefs about healthcare that many patients hold. So, when developing a treatment plan, providers may not consider cultural norms and beliefs which often lead to patients receiving treatment regimens they will not follow.
Cultural Competency in Healthcare
This is why Nadesha promotes cultural competence in the delivery of health care. It's true that not everyone agrees on the definition of cultural competency, but the entire medical community seems to agree that increased cultural competency would improve the delivery of health care.
As Nadesha says, "once a patient arrives for diagnosis or treatment, the healthcare provider has the responsibility to promote effective care through communication that's easy for the patient to understand."
Nadesha, please keep spreading the word.