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Being born into a Latin American based culture, where both my parents were born and raised in Cuba, yet I was raised American, has always been quite a challenge balancing the two and not losing sight of one or the other. My family has done well mixing both the cultures, but I am very proud of my Cuban and Latin ancestry. Cuban’s have a very negative connotation when brought up in conversation, such as being thought of as communists or immigrants. However, when you look at the Cuban population as a while, you see the interaction between one another as lively and inviting. What is more important than how they are viewed as in the world is their culture, their communication and what makes them the way they are and continuing to be such an uplifting environment to be around.
Cuban’s as a whole population are very friendly and welcoming people, as are many other Spanish speaking countries. Cuban’s are known for being loud and sometimes overbearing with how just how friendly they can be. As stated in Communication in Nursing by Julia Balzer Riley (page 56), “Our language (Spanish is everything to us. We’re proud to speak it loudly – we love to socialize anywhere with family and friends.” In the healthcare system its important for any practicing doctor, nurse, or administrator to not take this friendliness in a manner that they might be yelling at them, it simply just in the culture. Having this boisterous way of speaking coincides with how easy it is for Cuban’s to share their thoughts or ideas. Being of Cuban decent myself and surrounded by my family all the time, I know that thoughts are easily exchanged no matter what it may be. Arguing loudly is also a common form of expressing feelings. This is more a form of relieving tension rather than fighting. I’ve learned not to take some things to heart because I know that speaking out of turn or sharing ideas bluntly is just the way Cuban’s communicate.
In comparison to how Cubans have a very open and welcoming sense of communicating their ideas and emotions, their way of touching is just as friendly. No matter if greeting a friend, family member, or stranger, it is not acceptable to not greet every person in a room with a handshake for men or a kiss on the cheek for women. According to Every Culture, “touching as a demonstration of affection is not taboo and does not carry a sexual connotation.” When applying this to the healthcare system, having a man greet a female nurse by kissing her on the cheek would not be considered a sexual action, just a form of greeting the nurse. Touch and affection are very important in the Cuban culture and shouldn’t be taken as a manner of anything inappropriate. When communicating with strangers, my family for example, are always very welcoming and open to others. However, it is difficult for some of my family members who do not speak any English. This is an area where both the Cuban culture, as I’m sure with many other cultures, clashes with the American culture, especially when one does not try to compensate for the other. I notice that my grandparents will become timid when talking to someone who only speaks English. In the healthcare system it is important to compensate for every culture to be able to understand what the issue is.
When speaking to a person of Cuban decent, eye contact plays an important role. There is no difference in the person you are talking to, whether a stranger or someone in a different age group, the eye contact when communicating is very important in any conversation. To Cubans, constant eye contact makes a them feel uncomfortable. However, avoiding eye contact can be a way of giving a sign of dishonesty, as a blog written on nonverbal communication in Cuba (2013) discusses. A medical professional should be aware of these type of small distinctions between different cultures, which takes time and knowledge of each to be able to understand. This differs from American’s because American’s prefer for eye contact to be maintained throughout the entire conversation, or it is seen as rude. In this scenario, a medical professional could use eye contact when talking to the patient, while also using diagrams or visuals to maintain a conversation. This could also help with the language barrier that many locations in the healthcare system struggle with. It would not only help the doctor or nurse, but also the patient.
Cuban’s are very emotional people. When there is anger it is clearly shown and the same goes for when there is sadness or happiness. You can easily read a Cuban’s facial expression and have an understanding of what the person might be thinking or feeling. When it comes to how a Cuban receives body language, “the emphasis is not on what is being said, they focus more on their gestures and facial expressions,” as a nonverbal language describes Cubans. In particular, there are not any specific gestures that are made, other than a look that a grandparent might scare a grandchild if they are misbehaving. But, emotions are carried on the sleeves for Cubans as they are very friendly people, they could easily be rubbed the wrong way by a stranger. A medical professional could easily calm a patient down if this was the case. Using a calm voice and making sure a patient that is Cuban feels comfortable would make any medical professional be able to easily communicate with a Cuban to give the best treatment possible.
As mentioned before, both my parents were born Cuba and raised when Fidel Castro first came into power. To the world, Cuba as seen as a country who lives in the past due to their 1950’s cars that are still being used, crumbling buildings that do not get fixed, and basically living in an age where not much has advanced because of having no relations with the United States. Although this is all true and no changes have been made by the government until Barack Obama resumed some relations with Cuba, their healthcare system has remained outstanding. As stated in the Huffington Post by writer Salim Lamrani (2014), “Despite extremely limited resources and the dramatic impact caused by the economic sanctions imposed by the United States for more than half a century, Cuba has managed to guarantee access to care for all segments of the population and obtain results similar to those of the most developed nations.” Buildings might be falling apart in Cuba, but their healthcare has been able to thrive by using a preventive medicine. Of all Third World countries in the continent, Cuba is the leading when it comes to medicine. Cuba has also held leading researches in Africa to discover different medical remedies and is also the home to Latin American School of Medicine, which trains future physicians from all over the world. The medical system in Cuba might be wonderful, but from experience when it comes to Cubans receiving any medical treatment in America is a different story. It’s very difficult for my parents to get their parents to go see doctor because of the language barrier. My grandma just prefers to use natural sources and take vitamins. Now that they have gotten older, however, they do go to the doctors regularly to make sure their health is up to par. Also, a lot of medical treatments that they get recommended are too expensive for even their Medicare to be able to cover. Because of the cost and language barrier, it is hard for some Cuban’s to be able to receive medical treatment as they once did in Cuba and they prefer to use natural remedies.
Within the healthcare setting, Cuba impacts many of its civilians for the better with their outstanding medical system. Since the Cuban government is a communist regime not many other countries could benefit from the knowledge and way of medicine Cubans use. They have, however made huge impacts in countries that have even less resources than Cuba does. Because of their medical system, Cubans have a higher rate of living than most other Third World countries, 78 years to be exact. Hopefully as the Cuban and American relationship begins to grow again as ties are not as severed, Cuban doctors and nurses could trade information as to how their medical system has been able to run so smoothly and vice versa with the United States.
Each culture in the world has its distinct differences that make them who they are and in the healthcare system it is important to be aware and respectful of these differences to prove excellent care. The Cuban culture in particular is a lively, welcoming, and affection group of people that could possibly come off as overbearing. As a medical professional it is important to that these are not traits to make a person feel uncomfortable, but rather a culture being who they are. In the medical field where customer service is of high importance, understanding cultures to their fullest and make adjustments is what will make the patient feel most comfortable with their surroundings in this type of setting.
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