Cultural Sensitivity

How I Practice Video Series
Veronica Gillispie, MD, FACOG

HIP: Cultural Sensitivity from ACOG on Vimeo.


When I practice, as all OB/GYNs, I try to provide good competent care, but also I try to provide care that is culturally aware and culturally sensitive. Throughout my practice, I’ve had a couple of situations where I’ve learned that I’ve needed to improve those skills. For example, I had a patient that was habitually late for her appointments and I felt like she was disrespectful of my time as well as the other patients that I was taking care of. So I took the time to ask her “Why are you always late for your appointments?” and I discovered at that point that she was walking to her appointments. And some days it was harder than others for her to get there on time, when it rained it made it more difficult for her to make it to the appointments, and while I felt guilty for the feelings I’d had towards her I did take that information and I learned from that situation. I had another situation where I assumed when I walked into the room that the patient was accompanied by her daughter and I was quickly told that that was her girlfriend. And so through these situations I’ve learned to ask open-ended questions. I’ve learned to not assume things about my patients. I personally care for a very diverse population of women ethnically, religiously, socioeconomically, and so I try to take all of those things into consideration when I’m taking care of those patients. Today, in fact, I operated on a patient that is a Jehovah’s Witness and in talking about the procedure I discussed with her that it was a procedure that sometimes patients require a blood transfusion. And we did discuss the things that she would accept as there are different things that are accepted in different facets of the religion and we came to an agreement on something that would work for her. And so, again, I’ve learned to ask open-ended questions, I’ve learned to make patients a part of the decision making process. In making the patients part of the decision making process, I’ve also learned in dealing with different cultures it’s important to extend that to different family members, particularly for my Hispanic women. Hispanic women and my African American women like to have their mothers or other extended family members included in the decision making process. And so I’ve learned to include the family, address the family, take their concerns into consideration, make sure that I answer their questions because it is truly a family decision making process. Through all of this I’ve also found a lot of use in the toolkit that is provided by ACOG. It’s a toolkit that was developed by the Health Care for Underserved Women Committee, that’s a committee for ACOG, and through this toolkit they use different patient scenarios and different tips that help us to make us aware of our shortcomings as far as cultural sensitivity and also help us to develop our cultural sensitivity. And this has been very important to me and it’s also helped me relate to my patients a lot better. And this is how I practice.


Return to How I Practice Video Series

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188