When we hear the word “diversity,” we immediately think of race and culture. While the key aspects of diversity in ethnicity include race and culture, the term is broader and encompasses various facets of life. These include gender, age, race, disability, religion, socioeconomic status, education, nationality, and veteran status.
Technology has promoted interconnectedness in the modern world, allowing us to interact and communicate with people from different backgrounds. As the world rapidly globalizes, diversity is increasingly prevalent across all sectors in every industry, and hence diversity is also vital in the healthcare industry.
What is Diversity in Healthcare?
Diversity plays a crucial role in the healthcare industry. Think of the countless patients who enter hospitals and clinics every day, seeking medical aid or regular check-ups. These individuals come from every race, creed, age, and gender—making a melting pot of humanity. And since patients are already at their most vulnerable, they feel most at ease when they see themselves within the healthcare workforce. Therefore, diversity in healthcare refers to when the medical and administrative staff of a facility represents a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.
But why is diversity so essential in the healthcare industry? Let’s explore six reasons why every healthcare facility must promote diversity.
Better Care for Diverse Populations:
A health professional’s job is to treat a physical injury and ensure their patient receives tremendous satisfaction and comfort. Since hospitals and clinics have a constant influx of patients, individuals come from varying backgrounds. To ensure that regardless of who walks through the door, there is someone who can identify and communicate with them, the healthcare staff must be diverse.
Nurses are usually the first healthcare professional a patient interacts with, so diversity in nursing is incredibly crucial. When healthcare providers bridge the gap between medical science and beliefs and practices of a patient’s value system, they enhance patient care and outcomes.
Doctors and nurses can provide ultimate care by understanding the patient’s culture, food, environment, and customs.
Better Problem Solving:
Patients who visit medical facilities differ in their health problems and their backgrounds. While some people arrive at the hospital to receive emergency care, others come after living through a chronic condition for some time. Additionally, many varying factors like genetics, socioeconomic status, and physical health in patients make it impossible to administer the same treatment for everyone. Therefore, facilities that hire a diverse staff can present diverse viewpoints when encountering a problem.
A team with more varied backgrounds offers differing perspectives to develop unique solutions than similar individuals. Limited diversity among individuals only allows limited solutions. The healthcare industry quite literally deals with life and death situations, and therefore it’s best always to be prepared.
When patients receive better medical care and feel comfortable in the environment, they give better treatment outcomes. Hospitals treat patients physically and ensure their emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Diversity in healthcare makes it possible for several different patients to receive the ultimate care, encouraging them to get better quicker. Healthcare patients generally fare better when receiving care from diverse teams with better problem-solving capabilities, innovative ideas, and effective communication. Diversity also helps organizations improve financial results along with quality care.
Better facility outcomes encourage more significant investments and help improve healthcare resources.
Team members with diverse experiences and perspectives increase productivity in everyday tasks. When improving existing processes and decision-making, it’s critical for healthcare facilities to include diverse opinions.
Better representation of various backgrounds encourages creativity and improves brainstorming and solutions. It not only promotes the efficiency of existing procedures but pushes people to invent and innovate new techniques, treatments, and tools. As a result, people from numerous backgrounds are more likely to draw inspiration from seemingly unrelated places. Combinations of these ideas lead to more unlikely and creative techniques.
Since diverse individuals have more pathways to execute an idea, it enables them to iterate faster and more cost-effectively. Working within a small budget, they can provide resources that would otherwise go unused.
Improves Recruitment Opportunities:
Healthcare facilities committed to hiring diverse staff members are more likely to improve their recruitment opportunities. Looking for new talent allows administrative staff to cast a broader net and hire individuals with strong potentials. When potential job candidates feel comfortable and included in their new setting, they are committed to accepting the job and performing well. You can implement some of these tactics to increase opportunities for diverse individuals at each stage:
- Reconsider job requirements
- Nix bias at the sourcing stage
- Train to spot bias during screening
- Work to ensure a balanced slate
- Be careful of what you do and say
Healthcare facilities are not only responsible for taking care of their patients, but they must also cater to the needs of their employees. By representing employees’ interests, healthcare professionals can have a stake in their organization and say how the facility runs. Better representation helps create custom-made policies and procedures to meet staff requirements. By employing diverse opinions in your decision-making, you can improve staff management and healthcare delivery. Increased engagement also ensures talented health professionals retain jobs and reduces staff turnover. When the staff is satisfied with their place of employment, they will perform their jobs in the best way possible and hence provide patients with ultimate care.
Higher Employee Morale:
Diversity in healthcare creates a strong sense of inclusion and community for professionals. This feeling makes the workplace for employees safer and more enjoyable. Additionally, when there is a lack of diversity, minority workers may feel stifled. They may not express their unique talents and traits for fear of being stereotyped or misjudged. These are natural inclinations for anyone more concerned with “fitting in” than being themselves. The pressure of pleasing your colleagues and bosses may cause higher stress, reduce morale and prevent employees from speaking up when their opinion is needed most. A diverse staff and environment encourages the celebration of cultural and ethnic differences instead of merely respecting them.
To improve diversity in healthcare, you can try implementing strategies like:
- Create a welcoming environment
- Address issues of bias
- Encourage diverse job applicants
- Promote diversity for more than the sake of diversity
- Listen to your employees and patients
Language, culture, religion, and ethnicity can easily create barriers and prevent communication between practitioners and patients. In an industry where lives hang in the balance, delays and obstacles can quickly become deadly. Therefore, creating diversity in healthcare is not just important; it’s vital.