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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Diversity in the Healthcare Workplace. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Racial, Cultural, and Ethnic Heritage Diversity

While the terms “race,” "ethnicity," and “culture” may be understood by most healthcare professionals, a reminder of their distinct definitions is helpful. This will allow for a better comprehension of the material presented on this topic.
  • Race is group to which others assign individuals on the basis of physical characteristics, as well as simplifications, perceptions, and stereotypes made in consequence.
  • Ethnicity is a group where an individual feels acceptance and belonging based upon group norms and customs of one's culture or origin.
  • Culture is the belief systems and value orientations that influence the norms, customs, traditions, social practices, and so on.
To meet the needs of racially and ethnically diverse patients, healthcare facilities should embrace racial, cultural, and ethnic heritage diversity. In an ideally diverse workplace environment, employees are able to accept and embrace the unique customs, norms, patterns of behavior, traditions, and perspectives of one another, despite their racial, cultural, or ethnic heritage. The goal is to work towards inclusion, which leaves all employees with a sense of belonging, feeling valued for who you are, and feeling supported in a way that motivates you to do your best work.

Start by asking yourself an important question: Am I able to show my true "self" at work with my ideas, opinions, background, personality, uniqueness, etc.? Hopefully, your answer is "yes." Be sure to support the same level of inclusion for your coworkers. When we take advantage of the benefits of diversity, we are able to make better use of everyone's unique skills sets.

From the employer perspective, the varying cultures of racially and ethnically diverse employees should be treated with equal importance, allowing for increased employee morale among other benefits. Other benefits reaped by facilities encouraging racial, cultural, and ethnic heritage diversity may include:
  • Varying perspectives and viewpoints
  • Increased versatility when issues/problems arise; diverse ideas can promote effective solutions
  • Wider dimension of service ability; critical when working with a diverse customer/patient population
  • Higher quality of performance from employees