The SFGH Department of Psychiatry treats patients from all walks of life and prides itself on treating all patients with compassion and understanding. This means we place a value on resepect for individual and cultural differences. As individuals can embody multiple cultures and large differences can exist between individuals from the same group, we approach patients from the point of view that each patient is unique and that each patient may reflect his or her culture(s) in unique ways. Therefore, in our clinical work, we approach understanding patients with an attitude of cultural humility, an attitude that implies it is the patient who must teach the clinician about the patient's culture and the clinician can learn only by listening.
What is the purpose of the Cultural Humility Task Force (CHTF)?
To provide leadership to the department in maintaining a focus on the importance of culture in clinical work; and to advance the importance of cultural humility through organizing training, workshops and culturally focused seminars.
What is Cultural Humility?
- An attitude that includes pride for one's own culture and the knowledge that the clinician's world view is not universal
- An attitude that acknowledges that a patient's culture can only be appreciated by learning from the patient
- That attributing certain traits or attitudes to individuals who belong to a certain group is an act of generalization that may or may not be accurate or helpful in understanding an individual patient
- To be sensitive to a patient's culture, clinicians must possess cultural humility
Cultural Focus Teams at SFGH
Because we recognize that while patients are individuals, they also want to see doctors and nurses who "look like" them and "speak their language"; thus, we strive to hire a diverse and multi-lingual staff to provide care to our diverse patient population. For example, on our inpatient psychiatric service, we have organized our treatment teams to provide care to specific groups of patients:
- Asian/Pacific-Islander Team (Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Vietnamese language skills)
- Black Focus Team
- Latino Focus (Spanish language skills) team
- LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender Team)
- Women's Focus Team
Teams consist of an attending physician, social worker, nurses, and occupational therapists, who reflect the focus team served.
A CHTF Project
To help staff and patients alike to think about the issues faced by different groups and to foster empathy, CHTF has developed a number of posters highlighting some general issues faced by different groups. The posters were developed to stimulate discussion of the experiences of these groups in the larger culture, and provide an opportunity to appreciate each groups' strengths and potential sensitivities.
The task force meets monthly at San Francisco General Hospital; additional information may be obtained by contacting James W. Dilley, MD, Chief of Psychiatry, SFGH, at (415) 206-8430 or Arthur Chou, MD, at (415) 206-6177.
Special thanks to Lisa Roth, Graphic Artist (firstname.lastname@example.org) for her help in designing these posters.