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Tag: cultural competence


Lisa Walker

My brother-in-law, Ron, was a curmudgeon; grumpy, sullen, even downright mean at times.

By blood, he and my husband Bill were cousins. In the 1950s, when Bill was just a child, his mother died unexpectedly, and Ron’s mother took Bill in to live with her and her four children. They were an African-American family living in the midst of a middle-class, predominantly white Connecticut township. Their home, located on a wealthy

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…perchance to dream

It’s the middle of the night as I write this since I can’t sleep. I have spent too much time on Facebook, alternating between taking heart that so many people seem to feel as I do about the recent election and being dismayed to the point of nausea by some of the vitriol being spewed. Often it is both, as a writer describes some abuse or hatred aimed at her or, an epithet spat at

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A Stroke of Faith

“SIGNED OUT AGAINST MEDICAL ADVICE,” declared the last line of the ER physician’s note, bold and foreboding.

I quickly skimmed through the rest of his chart. Mr. Lopes was an elderly Haitian man, a recent immigrant, who had visited the local emergency room for a bad headache, only to discover that his blood pressure was astronomical. Apparently, Mr. Lopes and his family considered him too sturdy a man to be retained at

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Paying It Forward

Caroline Wellbery

In the middle of a five-way thoroughfare intersection, with the early-morning sun’s glare on my windshield, I hit the curb of the median and blew out my left front tire. Amid stopped traffic, I ran to collect my escaped hubcap, whose silver eye stared helplessly from among the automotive debris of previous accidents.

A policeman blocked the lanes until I could pilot my car into the gas station on the other

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Third Degree

Susan S. Turner

When I find a lump in my left breast I am stunned. I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m immobilized. It takes me several days before I tell my partner, who has to push me into action. I get the referral from my doctor and schedule a mammogram. The radiology practice fits me into their schedule that same week, but I still have several days to sit with the unknown.

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Al Amira Abaya

“There are some unusual spots on my feet that I want to have examined,” says the fifty-something woman with a friendly smile.

She is wearing an al amira, a two-piece veil consisting of a close-fitting cap and an accompanying tube-like scarf. The rest of her body is covered by her loose-fitting abaya, despite Philadelphia’s sweltering July heat. I have learned that these garments are traditionally worn by Muslim women as an expression of modesty when they’re in

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Supermarket Encounter

I was in a large supermarket in the late afternoon. At the busy cheese counter, I took a number and stood waiting in the large crowd. When my number was called, I pushed through the customers to the counter and gave my order. After I’d finished, I took a half-step backward and collided with someone.

As I turned around to apologize, I found myself facing a young woman who towered over me. I

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A Shared Language

I was waiting on a friend who had injured her arm. They entered later and huddled in the seats nearby, murmuring in hushed Korean and peering at the English signs.
Feverish and weak, the mother clutched her stomach while her husband stroked her arm. You could tell the son was anxious by the way he kept tugging at his father’s wrist to check his watch, the way he paced in little circles

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I am the product of a couple hundred years of Western European immigration to the northeastern United States. My parents were left-leaning but square churchgoers who were inspired by the Civil Rights movement and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in particular. My father began a career as a Methodist minister. However, being a rather cerebral introvert, he soon realized the ministry suited him poorly. When he left the profession suddenly, we landed in

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Black, Blue, Green and White

My life and experiences have been defined by contrasts. I am a physician and a military officer. Yet, in my presence and out of ear shot, I have been called such names as Nigger, Oreo, Tutsoon and Spear Chucker.

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A White Girl Grows in Philadelphia

I grew up with my older sister and our mother in a fourth-floor walk-up in Center City, Philadelphia. Most of our immediate neighbors were gay and white, but Center City, like all of the city’s neighborhoods, abutted a diverse range of cultures, including an Irish Catholic neighborhood and a black neighborhood. South of the black neighborhood was a bastion of Italian-Americans–the home of Rocky and open-air markets. Fanning out from Center City were enclaves

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Race in the Advance Directives Conversation

Much of my work as a Palliative Care physician involves conversations with patients and their families for whom the medical outlook is bleak: to help them receive the treatment they want, not more and not less. Such discussions are best held in tandem with the primary medical team and with the nurse. Many times, both attending doctors and housestaff have said, “But it’s so much harder to get a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order)

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