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Darker-toned skin options in patient manikins are a great start in addressing the increased need for culturally-inclusive healthcare simulation training.
One of the purposes of patient simulation training is to provide medical students and learners with access to healthcare education that's highly realistic, yet carries no risk to a living patient.
Training solutions providers have made great strides to increase the fidelity of patient simulators. From fully-integrated physiological modelling and realistic airways, to reactive pupils and pharmacologically-responsive systems, high fidelity patient manikins allow learners to perform critical interventions on simulators and gain valuable training experience in traumatic and emergency patient care.
For simulation in healthcare to effectively succeed as a reliable modality for enhanced patient safety, learners must be able to suspend disbelief and behave as though every simulated event were real.
But, how "real" can patient care training be if patient manikins (and, the education/training scenarios enacted) don't realistically represent the spectrum of potential patients in a real, racially diverse and multi-cultural world?
Learning to Acknowledge Patient Diversity
Many cultural norms may influence a patients’ behavior and appearance. Clinicians who understand their patients’ cultural values, beliefs, and practices are more likely to have positive interactions and provide culturally responsible care.
Health care providers may also need training to understand aspects of cultural diversity that go beyond skin color, or other external features.
Religious affiliation, language, physical size, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability (both physical and mental), political orientation, socio-economic status, occupational status and geographical location are but a few ways we can measure diversity. Ethnicity may also impact the health of a patient (cases where genetic diseases, infections, and physical conditions may be endemic to populations from particular geographic regions or due to genetic proximity).
Deciphering Cross-Cultural Encounters
A cross-cultural encounter is a situation in which clinical care providers interface and interact with patients from backgrounds that are unlike their own. These encounters may involve an assessment of the patient's language, belief systems, personal history, medical history, nutritional practices and environmental experiences.
In some cases, there may be need for an interpreter, or someone who knows and understands the patient's preferred mode of communication and cultural underpinnings. (For example, a particular patient may have cultural restrictions about being touched by, or even disrobing in front of, the opposite sex.) This is something that may require clarification for the healthcare provider to dispense the best care.
A deeper understanding of the patient's cultural background can improve opportunities for promoting healthy practices and wellness, and communicating tips to the patient for injury prevention, health maintenance and recovery.
We are all members of the same human race. But, every person is unique. Providing the best healthcare to patients means providing culturally competent care which is sensitive and cognizant of individual patient differences, preferences and needs.
Consult with an expert in healthcare training to find out where you may obtain simulated clinical experiences (SCEs) and/skin tone options for multicultural-specific practice and training.
1. Foronda C.L., MacWilliams B. (2015) Cultural Humility in Simulation Education: A Missing Standard? Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 11 (6) , pp. 289-290.
2. Leuning, C., Swiggum, P., Wiegert, H. & McCullough-Zander, K. (2002). Proposed Standards for Transcultural Nursing. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(1), 40- 46.
3. Berlin, E., & Fowkes, W. (1982). A Teaching Framework for Cross-Cultural Health Care. The Western Journal of Medicine, 139(6), 934-938.