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Celebrating Culture and Diversity: Addressing the Patient

Yara Enamorado, a communications specialist at Adventist Health White Memorial, shared a story with us recently about how important it is to understand cultural differences when addressing a patient. Here is that story:

“One day my mother greeted a lady at her church, “Hola señora!”, to which the lady quickly responded, “Yo soy señorita!” What was the problem?

Well first, if you don’t speak Spanish you have no idea what just happened. Second, my mother addressed the lady as someone who is, or has at one point been married (Señora). Though this lady was older, she had never been married and corrected my mother by asking to be called “señorita”. You would think among those from the same culture there would be no faux pas like this, but it happens often.”

Yara reminded us that this is a great example of how we should be careful in how we address patients. It doesn’t matter who they are, it adds a personal and caring touch to ask the patient how they would like to be addressed.

If they have their doctorate degree, they might want to be addressed as Doctor. Or, they might want something more informal and go on a first name basis.

Yara summarized in saying, “The point is, to meet them where they would like to be met, and not where we assume they should be.”

We couldn’t agree more! Thank you for sharing, Yara!

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