Every culture has its unique rules and traditions that make it different from others. Usually, such divergences serve as a basis for learning about the peculiarities of different nations and investigative common and dissimilar aspects of cultures. It is interesting to find out about customs, body language, daily routine, and other features of each culture. However, when it comes to professional relations, all of these aspects turn from curiosities to complications. When people with diverse cultural backgrounds come together on a professional ground, they have to be ultimately cautious to avoid serious adverse outcomes of misunderstandings or misinterpretations. The healthcare sphere is one of the most vulnerable in terms of interpersonal communication and the treatment of each participant in the communication process of others’ verbal and non-verbal expressions.
There is a vast number of individuals with European heritage living in the USA. Among these, German Americans’ culture deserves special consideration due to several differences between German and American cultures (Jansky, Owusu-Boakye, & Nauck, 2019). First and foremost, it is necessary to explain to all the team members that German employees’ concepts of friendliness and amiability are rather different from Americans’ ones (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019). Employees with German heritage are not likely to engage in friendly conversations, inquire about their colleagues’ or patients’ personal lives, or bake a cake to share with everyone on their birthday (Brooks, Manias, & Bloomer, 2019). Most likely, they would not even inform anyone at work about their holidays, as well as will avoid participating in celebrating those of others. For Americans, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to understand such an attitude (Jansky et al., 2019). A nursing manager should explain to all employees that by keeping business communication at a highly formal level, Germans do not mean to be rude or inconsiderate. German employees tend to address their colleagues by a title and surname and minimize niceties. Such conduct makes these team members feel safe and not engage in excessive personal issues.
German managers also pay much attention to credentials and education as indications of credibility. There is a variety of dialects in Germany, which leads to misunderstandings between people from different regions (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019). Misunderstandings between professionals with various language and cultural backgrounds are not rare. Professional disputes may occur even between specialists speaking languages from the same family and sharing interpretations of non-verbal cues (Franko et al., 2019). Hence, when a German employee hears some colloquial expressions or idioms in English, it is most likely that he or she will not understand them and will feel frustrated. To minimize such occurrences, it is necessary to take care of employees’ language choices so that every team member would feel comfortable and would not suspect that something is being concealed from them.
At the same time, a manager should pay an effort to explain the peculiarities of American workforce culture to German employees. It is necessary to make people with a different cultural heritage feel like equal members of a single mechanism aimed at satisfying patients’ needs. German employees should understand that Americans’ familiarity is not synonymous with impoliteness. Management and governance issues are of increased importance in the German healthcare system (Kuhlmann & Larsen, 2015). However, German employees should understand that American healthcare institutions also value care and respect toward patients and colleagues. What seems to be unnecessary amiability for German employees is a mere expression of politeness for Americans.
Not only employees but also customers of healthcare institutions need their cultural background to be considered by the personnel. Hospitalized patients compose a particularly vulnerable population due to their healthcare issues and the lack of home surroundings. Hence, individualized patient care is of utmost importance for each customer of healthcare facilities, including those of German heritage (Koberich et al., 2016). Specifically, patients may feel distrustful of nurses who communicate in jargon or avoid answering patients’ questions directly.
Continuity of care is another issue that bothers Germans to a great extent. A research study conducted by Panteli et al. (2015) indicates that German patients are concerned about unplanned (emergency) visits to healthcare specialists. The problem that worries them most is the continuity of care. To minimize the negative expectations of German Americans, healthcare employees need to perform the following steps. First of all, it is necessary to explain to a patient that even if he or she has to receive unplanned healthcare services, they will be performed at the highest level. Secondly, nurses need to make the patient feel safe and secure by avoiding asking personal questions or keeping informal conversations since these provoke doubts about their professionalism.
If a graduate student nurse were to be conducting a patient pamphlet questionnaire or satisfaction survey for a German patient before a patient is discharged, they would ask their patient the following question: “Do you feel welcome when you see a healthcare professional?” The form of research method to conduct the survey would fall under the qualitative category. The specific methodology to employ in such a questionnaire would be phenomenology.
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Franko, K., Thom, N., & Luethi, D. (2019). Delicate differences: Professional encounters between Hungarians and German-speaking Europeans, and how to study them. Journal of East European Management Studies, 24(1), 32–60. Web.
Jansky, M., Owusu-Boakye, S., & Nauck, F. (2019). “An odyssey without receiving proper care” – experts’ views on palliative care provision for patients with migration background in Germany. BMC Palliative Care, 18(1), 8. Web.
Koberich, S., Feuchtinger, J., & Farin, E. (2016). Factors influencing hospitalized patients’ perception of individualized nursing care: A cross-sectional study. BMC Nursing, 15(1). Web.
Kuhlmann, E., & Larsen, C. (2015). Why we need multi-level health workforce governance: Case studies from nursing and medicine in Germany. Health Policy, 119(12), 1636–1644. Web.
Panteli, D., Augustin, U., Rottger, J., Struckmann, V., Verheyen, F., Wagner, C., & Busse, R. (2015). Informed consumer or unlucky visitor? A profile of German patients who received dental services abroad. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 43(5), 415–423. Web.
Purnell, L. D., & Fenkl, E. A. (2019). Handbook for culturally competent care. Springer.