October 13, 2011
Aspiring Healthcare Professionals Learn to Better Serve a Diverse
“Shabbat Shalom,” “Namaste,” “Asalaam Alikum” — these
traditional greetings represent a fraction of the varied customs
that healthcare professionals encounter as they serve today’s
culturally diverse populations.
To better prepare their students for the challenges — and
opportunities — they face, the College of Pharmacy and Allied
Health Professions at St. John’s held its Cultural Clues
and Patient Encounter seminar on Thursday, Oct. 6. More
than 80 students, staff and
administrators packed the University’s Health
Education Resource Center for the one-hour interactive
Presented by Sr. Annelle Fitzpatrick, CSJ, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor of Sociology at St. John’s, the
seminar introduced attendees to a wide variety of religious and
cultural traditions, ranging from Buddhists to Orthodox Jewish .
The attendees learned how hair style, name, body markings and even
jewelry can identify a client’s culture and faith.
Having the ability to identify certain cultural items and symbols,
Sr. Fitzpatrick explained, could help healthcare professionals
respond to patients in a more sensitive and professional
Attendees shared comments and experiences during the lecture,
becoming adept at identifying the Ohm, the hijab, the
Onkar, the symbol of Allah and other religious symbols and
traditional clothing worn among these culturally diverse groups. By
identifying these items, attendees learned to be mindful of certain
questions, procedures and dietary preferences these patients may
have. They also became more sensitive to the culture shock some
groups may experience in a clinical setting.
“What was amazing and quite beautiful was many of the different
cultures we identified today, through the different clues sister
gave us, were sitting in our audience,” noted Louise Donohoe, a