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INTRODUCTION

Lions, tigers, and bears are considered some of the most dangerous predators on the planet and normally live acrimoniously as competing predators. Yet at a wild animal reserve in Georgia, a lion, tiger, and bear live harmoniously together. They’ve been together since cubs, when they were rescued from owners who abused and tortured them. Somehow this unlikely threesome established a bridge that allowed them to cross their natural predator instincts and create a bond that is inseparable, according to the animal husbandry manager at Noah’s Ark (ABC News, 2013). But is crossing cultural differences this easy for humans?

We’ve passed the first decade of the 21st century, and many of us think nothing about rolling out of our bed in the morning in one state and within a 24-hour period landing in another state or even another part of the world. Advances in communication allow loved ones to communicate anywhere in the world through emails, tweets, Skyping, FaceTime, or an array of other technologies. Even national economies are interconnected. The trade markets of 2012 demonstrated that the economies of the world are interdependent on each other’s respective stock markets as national and international recessions loomed as a result of interdependent activities. In this age of global mobility, instant communication, and interconnectedness, diverse cultures are shoved together in multiple sociocultural interactions with and without preparation. If we anticipate that we’ll encounter multiple sociocultural interactions, we’ll be more prepared to create cultural bridges. But, if we are unprepared, cultural clashes will occur that may create personal scars or erupt into more negative outcomes.

HEALTHCARE: A FERTILE ENVIRONMENT FOR CULTURAL CLASHES

In healthcare environments, diverse cultural interactions occur as healthcare providers are expected to provide culturally appropriate and sensitive healthcare to all individuals in each setting, regardless of their role. But how do healthcare providers provide culturally appropriate and sensitive healthcare when they have personal experiences related to cultural diversity, inclusiveness, race, bigotry, and so on? Even the terminology surrounding culturally appropriate and sensitive healthcare can cause the meekest of healthcare providers to explode with passion for human equality or implode from unresolved emotions. Consequently, healthcare providers may feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and even insulted at the thought that one might assume they would not provide appropriate and sensitive healthcare.

In many healthcare agencies, mandatory cultural diversity and inclusivity training is designed to promote skills and knowledge about specific cultural groups and is often accompanied with a litany of typical cultural responses for various ethnic, racial, and cultural groups. There is nothing wrong with this approach if one is receptive to learning the information. Unfortunately, for many healthcare providers, this creates a déjà vu response instead of empowering them to navigate through potentially complex interactions.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

At this point, I want to emphasize that I am not supporting lessening the importance of political advocacy, human rights issues, ...

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