Before starting this course, I thought that I was a pretty culturally competent or at least accepting individual. I come from a very small town where there is not much cultural diversity of any kind, but since coming to UWM, I felt that I had thrived on the diversity on campus and in the city and that I had become culturally competent. I could not have been more wrong. Certainly, living in the city of Milwaukee and experiencing diversity that I had not before exposed me to different cultures and many different types of people, but I still carried many stereotypes and prejudices that I was not aware of. This really hit me after taking the cultural competence self-assessment quiz. I scored much lower than I thought I would which led to the creation of my learning goals for the semester:
1. To gain more knowledge about numerous cultural beliefs, practices, attitudes, and ways of communicating as to better understand how this effects people’s view on medicine so I can become more aware of how to best serve patients of all different cultures in my future.
2. To understand my own cultural experiences and how these influence biases that I possess and work to overcome these biases to become a more culturally competent individual who does not push my own beliefs onto others.
3. To become more familiar with culturally competent healthcare and the strategies used to deliver culturally competent care so I can use these methods in the future as I become a health care professional.
Reflecting back over this course, I can say that I have made progress on all these goals. Each learning module helped me with goal number one and although this goal is truly a life-long experience, this class helped build a very strong foundation in understanding many cultures including some that I had very little previous knowledge of before this class, such as the Amish and Roma. I will need to continue to learn about new cultures throughout the entirety of my professional career and beyond. This course has also helped me develop strategies to help me learn more about culture from my future patients as well. The case study videos as well as reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks helped me understand how to best interact with patients to make sure that they understand all treatment methods and are comfortable.
Working through this course also helped a lot with goal number two. Each module, I was able to reflect on my own personal biases and beliefs about a culture and start to get to the root about why I felt that way. This is again, a life-long journey and overcoming biases and personal prejudices takes a life-long commitment. This course has helped me develop strategies of how to be more open-minded and accepting to ways of thinking other as my own. This will help greatly as I move into being a health-care professional.
I appreciated the assignments that required us to look into the cultural training and the standards of our own future careers. These assignments helped me to make progress on my third goal. I also got to learn a lot of the standards and trainings that I would need to be familiar with and go through as an occupational therapist. I spent a lot of time researching standards on the American Occupational Therapy Association website and gained a lot of valuable knowledge from this. This will help me be a better occupational therapist someday and I plan to continue to keep myself up to date about the programs and standards that AOTA is implementing to help occupational therapists be culturally competent.
Throughout this course, I was always struck with the truth of the statement that cultural competence is a journey and not a destination. Although I still have a long way to go on my journey, I am very thankful that I took this course and gained all the knowledge and skills that I did. I am confident in saying that I am a more open-minded, accepting, and culturally aware person than I was before taking this course. And I am very dedicated to continuing my journey towards cultural competence.