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“Train the Trainer” Program Educates Barnes-Jewish Employees About Cultural Competency

  • September 13, 2010
  • Number of views: 1801

Jason Merrill
[email protected]

ST. LOUIS – When Barnes-Jewish Hospital created the Center for Diversity and Cultural Competency in 2006, the goal was to “reduce the health-care disparities for under-represented minorities and persons of lower socioeconomic status.”

One of the ways the message is spread to employees is through a “Train the Trainer” program where a volunteer from every department at Barnes-Jewish goes through a six month training course to in turn train their department on how cultural competency impacts patient care.

“The program improves people’s capacity to serve all patients well,” says Jelena Todic, program manager with the center, whose goal is to have every Barnes-Jewish employee touched by “Train the Trainer.”

It turns out such goals were forward thinking as the Joint Commission has approved new and revised hospital accreditation standards to improve patient-provider communication. Surveyors will evaluate compliance with new Patient-Centered Communication standards beginning January 1, 2011 and compliance with the standards will be included in accreditation decisions no earlier than January 2012.

“Our ultimate goal is to end health disparities. The ‘Train the Trainer’ program is one of the approaches that we are taking at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to accomplish this. We are very much ahead of the game in getting Barnes-Jewish employees equipped with skills and tools to communicate across cultures in a patient-centered way,” says Brenda Battle, director of the center.

Many perhaps only think of diversity as a black-white issue, but Todic points out diversity is “all-inclusive” with complexities such as where a person was born, literacy level, or socioeconomic status.

“Every encounter in the health care setting is cross cultural communication, including communication between health care providers and those who are not,” says Todic. “It’s creating a self awareness of who you are and how you perceive the world based on your background and experiences; understanding that others see the world from their own experiences; and developing skills to negotiate through these differences.”

The objectives of “Train the Trainer” are to:

  • Increase self-awareness and understanding of dimensions of diversity in the context of power and privilege.
  • Increase confidence when working with diverse staff and patient populations.
  • Increase the ability to apply regulatory, patient safety and quality guidelines in trans-cultural encounters.
  • Increase the understanding of the impact of culture in all encounters, including healthcare delivery and healthcare decision making.
  • Increase the ability to conduct a cultural assessment (for those who do assessments), incorporate cultural perspectives into treatment planning (for those who provide treatment) and individualize response/care.
  • Increase the ability to effectively work with interpreters.
  • Increase the understanding of the impact of limited health literacy on patient outcomes and develop skills to work effectively with patients who are dealing with limited health literacy.
  • Increase the ability to manage conflict in transcultural situations and solve problems related to issues of diversity.
It’s accomplished by doing things like making the business case for cultural competency, teaching world view and understanding the role interpreter services play at Barnes-Jewish. Interpreter services is on pace to have over 41,000 patient encounters in 2010.

“It’s a lifelong process, but through the program, we will have more people capable of working through these concepts,” says Todic.

The Joint Commission’s embrace of these concepts is on their website at in a monograph titled, “Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals.” They are already concepts ingrained at Barnes-Jewish with others from local hospitals inquiring how they can bring such cultural competency programs to their employees.

Three classes have already graduated from “Train the Trainer” program that started in 2008 with a new session running in 2011 from January to June with six three hour sessions offered four times a month. The goal is to register 120 people.

For more information, contact Todic at 314-747-2577. 


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