Culture and Language

Language is a fundamental piece of any culture, and within the healthcare culture it is no different.  In order to begin change within the healthcare culture we first need to adopt a change in our language; the language we use interprofessionally, the language we use to describe patients, and the language we use to interact with patients and families.  In changing, or perhaps rather evolving, our language we will not only better our communication, but better our understanding of the human nature we all possess.  I reflect back on a big movement within the special education teaching realm to change the language used to describe a patient with disabilities. Of course we have transitioned from  using the term mental redardation to intellecutally disabled, but more importantly there was a change in the sequence. It is no longer “that special needs kid” but rather “that kid who has special needs.” It was a drive to put the child or person first in the language we used in order to reinforce in our minds that in the end these are people too, who really aren’t that different from the rest of us.  Changing the language we use changes the way we think about people and situations. I reflect on a simple transition I have personally tried to make from saying I “have” to do something, to I “get” to do something, and it has really changed the way I approach situations and put into perspective the simple things I took for granted.

I think it’s great to see the start of this in changing “calling for help” to “calling for guidance;” it’s just one word, but it creates a completely different mindset and starts to form, rather evolve, a culture.

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