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Cultural competency is the ability to "see and think in both directions." To see the world from a range of perspectives, understand the differences, and encourage and reward a range of behaviors in order to meet the needs of both the organization and individuals.

Our goal at the SCCA is to achieve cultural competency for all staff. When working with patients and families, particularly those who are from other countries or who have recently moved to the US, be aware that cultural differences may impact communication between you and the patient and/or family member.

Terminal Value vs. Instrumental Value

A Terminal Value is a Goal (end result you want to achieve). An Instrumental Value is how you act to achieve the goal (behaviors we see).

For example: Two people can share the same terminal value like "being respectful."  Different cultures have varying instrumental values however, or ways in which respect is demonstrated.  For some cultures, respect is shown by looking down when someone in authority is speaking while in other cultures, respect is shown to those in authority by looking directly at the person.

The instrumental values may be different from your own even though the terminal value is the same. Focus on understanding how the patient and family is perceiving the situation and get help from your supervisor or the social work department when the situation seems particularly murky.

Cultural Diversity Quiz Question

 a. True
 b. False

Check Answer


Correct answer: a. True