How can we bridge cultural divides in our day-to-day practice?

Hearing Silences Title SlideBack in 2019 I first commissioned and filmed a course on racism in medicine and how we as fertility expert acupuncturists can bridge cultural divides in our treatment rooms. I’ve spoken about this before on my Instagram feed, but I have had to do a lot of work behind the scenes before I felt ready to publish the course. Today is the day. While it’s been quietly live on the platform for a couple of weeks, I have had to psyche myself up to do justice to its launch.

My path to commissioning this course started in around 2017, when Mars Lord did me a huge favour by calling me out on my privilege as a cis/white woman and my lack of willingness to hear the voices of others. Her words challenged me to the core and in doing so opened my eyes and I started to read, learn, and, most of all, listen. I always thought I was a good listener – it’s a big part of the job – but I hadn’t realised that my own cis/white/middle class/metropolitan outlook was limiting what I was actually hearing from my clients and my colleagues and my understanding of the wider world.

As I started to pay attention to the voices of those who didn’t look like me, sound like me, or have similar backgrounds to me, I realised that my practice was, at best, homogeneous. It didn’t reflect my own world in London, and certainly not the wider community in which I live. It was also clear to me that, however well-meaning we are, the Chinese Medicine community is in many ways also very homogeneous and that there is no straightforward way for practitioners to learn about how people from other backgrounds and communities experience Western healthcare or Chinese Medicine.

This was something that I had the power to change, and so I intend to do so.

Professor Laura Serrant OBEI did a lot of research for teachers who could help me and my colleagues understand the issues, but – most importantly – do something to change the status quo. I found Professor Laura Serrant OBE. She worked as a nurse and in senior positions in community healthcare before becoming an academic. As such, she has the ability to explain the theory as well as the practice. The result is the course that is now live: Hearing Silences – an introduction to cultural safety in practice

Her course  is *not* designed to make you feel guilty about whatever privilege you may hold. This is a course that provides you with an understanding of how minority groups are mistreated by healthcare professionals AND a practical guide to working with clients from any and all backgrounds in a way that allows you to hear them and provide the care that they need.

Why has it taken me so long to make the course live?

Well, I was still pregnant when we filmed the course, and it has taken me a long time for me to feel like I could do the launch of this course justice and to be ready for the trolls, the deniers, and the “innocent questioners”. So let’s be clear, this course is not a cure for racism in our profession or wider society, but it is a practical step that every practitioner can take to understand structural racism in healthcare and make their clinic a safer space for people from different backgrounds to their own. While Laura is based in the UK, the framework she is teaching is applicable everywhere (including in non-white majority countries).

This course is the second course in my series of ‘safe practice for everyone’ courses. The first was Nicola Salmon’s course on fertility treatment for people in bigger bodies for Chinese Medicine practitioners. And, next year, there will be one more.

It is my deepest wish that each practitioner interested in:

  • their own personal growth,
  • making their practice more welcoming and safer for people from different racial, religious and cultural backgrounds,
  • learning what they don’t know because it has never featured in their life experience, and
  • taking a medical history which doesn’t miss important details by not asking the right questions, takes this course.

I’ve priced this course to make it as accessible as possible, and am open to contact from anyone who can’t afford that price but who wants to do the course.

I believe this is the only course of it’s kind for TCM practitioners

This is certainly the only place where practitioners can access Professor Serrant’s ‘Silences Framework’. As Laura says in the course:

“In the 21st century, If we are not able to provide care, advice and professional support to our clients, patients and service users – which is appropriate, supportive and culturally safe – irrespective of their ethnic group, racial identities or religious beliefs…are we REALLY fit to practice?”

To view the course, please go to: www.fertilitysupport.training/hearing-silences

If you have any questions about the course, you can contact me via this form.

I wish everyone who reads this blog the same transformative experience in your practice, that I’ve had in mine.

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