At its core, pharmacy practice is about people. Sometimes known as “the health professionals you see most often”, pharmacists play a vital role in ensuring the health of individuals and communities. Individuals are just that, individual, unique, and our communties are made up of a diverse mix of those from different cultural backgrounds, with different languages and beliefs.
“Culture” is not limited to ethnicity or indigeneity, but includes age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and religious beliefs. In many communities, a dominant culture will be evident, but the presence of diversity is still undeniable.
Part of cultural competency is the process of developing skills from another culture to be better able to interact. These skills also assist us in reflecting on our own culture, identifying and addressing our inherent biases. Ultimately, this leads to cultural safety.
It is important for pharmacists to develop culturally safe practice because it helps us provide quality patient care that is respectful, responsive and relevant to the needs and preferences of our patients. Within the context of cultural safety, we are able to build trust, improving patient satisfaction and, ultimately, health outcomes. Cultural safety is a lifelong learning experience.
With all the diversity evident in our communities, where do you start to develop cultural safety? For me, a Pākehā New Zealander who grew up in a part of the country where mine was definitely the dominant culture, one of the first steps I took was to start learning te reo Māori. But why? Here are my top three reasons.