The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2004 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

Integration of Diversity Concepts into a Respiratory Care Course.

David López, Ed.D., RCP, RRT, Loma Linda University, School of Allied Health Professions, Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences, Loma Linda California.

Introduction: As health care professionals working in a continually more diverse environment, it is essential that students be prepared to not only appreciate and respect others, but to provide the best possible care to those we serve. To educate health care practitioners for this changed environment it is essential that student be exposed to these issues and how they relate to the practice and business (politics) of health care delivery. The purpose of this didactic and clinical experience was to utilize present structures in the curriculum to integrate the issues of diversity in a practical relevant approach.

Method
: An assignment was designed to provide first hand experience in providing appropriate treatment and care to outpatient respiratory care populations. The students were respiratory care students in their last quarter of their bachelors program in respiratory care. A total of 14 students over two years were used to provide data and analysis to this project. Students were given objectives that would require them to suggest appropriate respiratory care to their clients. The students completed a patient assessment and provided feedback and suggested a plan that included diversity. The following description of diversity was used: Those of different ethnic groups, genders, age, learning differences, international origin, and the physically challenged. The students used this description to evaluate the diversity needs of the client and provide a plan or mechanism to deliver the respiratory care being identified. For example, if the student had a female client that presented with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, moderate to severe dyspnea, and Spanish speaking, the assignment called for a specific action plan that would target how to educate, and provide a resource for further care. This action plan would explain how to, or who could, explain and educate the respiratory care plan to the client in their own language with consideration for any cultural, age, physically challenged issues that might present. Reflective writing objectives were also required as part of the clinical experience.

Results:
The student’s reflective writing and assessments were analyzed using grounded theory and triangulation and revealed the following categories of discovery: 1) Sensitivity towards others. The student’s were able to articulate the unique place others had in society as a function of socioeconomic factors and not just as a group or race of people. They recognized the individual as a person. 2) Application of appropriate care. The diversity data of the client was not seen as a barrier to appropriate care, rather diversity was embraced as a mechanism to provide better care, based on the individuals needs. 3) Introspection and self-worth of others. The students saw themselves, and their clients, as part of the community. This self identification and that of the clients seems to be a surprise to the students in their writing as being able to see the condition of others and moved them to view others as part of humanity as they saw themselves. 4) Client advocacy. Once the student had collected the diversity and respiratory data, the assessment and plan became more than a written exercise. The student’s were move to accomplish as much of the action plan on his or her own as possible. The students not only identified with the client, but also took it upon themselves to make sure the care was done by either them or done quickly by others. Resources were sought and brought into to care for the client. For example, translators, appropriate clergy, appropriate care giver (gender, age, or ethnic representative), or adaptive equipment. The student’s were able to recommend appropriate care based on the individual diversity needs of the client. This outcome was especially surprising due to the client advocacy that developed. The advocacy of care went to the heart of providing the best care for the client.

Conclusion: The results of this diversity learning experience demonstrated that the students were able to not only articulate in writing their appreciation and new found respect for others, but to also provide appropriate respiratory care modalities with diversity playing a direct role in the implementation of appropriate patient care.

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