One of the things that I am most proud of is being Latina. I am also proud of being a first generation college student, who has paved the way for others in my family to know that their goals can, and will be accomplished. I’ve never seen being a minority as a barrier, if anything I celebrate it, teach others, and use it to showcase my different life experiences. It is so important first of all to embrace who you are and never stray away from that! As a physical therapy student I have often been asked to translate from English to Spanish when working with patients. Although my Spanish isn’t the best because I am not fluent (I’m trying to be), I take pride in the fact that I can connect with patients using my native language. I also love relating to patients on a cultural level. Speaking Spanish with patients has always been beneficial to the patient because they feel as if they are being heard, cared for, and valued. Sometimes, language barriers can stop patients from seeking care, so it is our job as clinicians to make them feel comfortable and like we can help them.
Diversity is so important it is the seed that grows and flourishes making every experience in life that much more valuable. When I applied to graduate school, it was so important for me to attend a program that valued diversity. I wanted to learn from students of different walks of life, cultures, and experiences. I felt that it was the best way for me to grow as a professional, it would allow me to know how to connect with patients. When applying I was accepted into a program, where I would have been the only minority student. It wasn’t the fact that I would have been the only minority student that discouraged me from accepting the offer, it was the fact that I would not learn from other students of different cultures. I grew up in the city of Chicago where everywhere you go there is diversity from the people you see, to festivals, restaurants, and experiences. I thrive on diversity it is what made me who I am today. Luckily I was accepted into a program that prides itself in diversity. I have classmates from different cultures, faculty, and access to a student volunteer pro-bono clinic. I can honestly say that being in a program that promotes diversity has strengthened my connection with anyone I meet. I am able to relate to them because I may have heard about a holiday they celebrate, a food dish, or a cultural tradition.
It is also a beautiful thing to experience other cultures as well. You get to learn about traditions that they celebrate, the history behind their culture, and what makes them proud to be the ethnicity that they are. I enjoy sharing my culture with others, I’ve found that teaching someone about my culture also brings them joy. They get to learn something new about a culture that they have never experienced before. I get to answer questions and educate others.
Be proud of who you are. Be a clinician who wants to learn about others. Be a clinician who can genuinely relate to others. Celebrate Diversity!
Let’s Celebrate Diversity especially today, as we honor Martin Luther King Jr.(MLK). He paved the way for inclusion, diversity, and understanding of all people. He was an advocate that made huge changes in society which is why we still honor him today. As healthcare professionals it is our job to provide treatment for our patients without passing judgement of any kind. MLK’s message of inclusion should be one that all healthcare professionals embody. He is a role model of what every healthcare professional should, he encouraged diversity from all walks of life and communities. Let’s honor Martin Luther King Jr. by being healthcare professionals that embrace diversity, culture, and inclusion.