|CANCER & TREATMENTS FOR CANCER CENTER PATIENTS PREVENTION & RISK ASSESSMENT CLINICAL TRIALS & RESEARCH LIVING WITH CANCER|
Paths to Healing:
U-M's multicultural health initiatives foster understanding to help patients get the care they need, con't.
It was an early conversation with Peter Jebson, M.D., that helped Darrin Patterson take the next step toward cancer treatment. Initially, Jebson couldn't believe what he saw when he got Patterson's referral. Jebson, an associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery who has operated on many U-M Cancer Center patients with tumors in their hands and arms, had never seen a patient who had waited so long to be treated for cancer.
"I said, 'This doesn't jibe. There's no way,'" Jebson recalled.
Patterson told Jebson about his religious beliefs, and because of that, Jebson felt comfortable revealing that he also considers himself a religious person. Jebson doesn't promote his faith -- and, in fact, wouldn't have ever mentioned it if Patterson hadn't opened up to him about his religious beliefs.
Unfortunately, Jebson said, modern health care doesn't often allow doctors to spend enough time with patients to develop deeper relationships.
"You can only have these conversations when you''ve really gotten to know someone,' Jebson said. "The vast majority of physicians are not comfortable speaking to patients about religious matters. We're not trained to do it, but I've learned from my patients about how to be respectful of their beliefs."
In addition to educational offerings provided by the U-M Health System's Cultural Competency Division, the University of Michigan Medical School also has integrated multicultural health throughout its formal curriculum.
The root of all efforts promoting cultural awareness is to foster understanding and respect, said Aisha Langford, director of Community Outreach for the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"What people care about most, no matter what their race or culture, is that their doctor is validating them and taking all of their concerns into account," she said.
And that's just what Jebson did during the conversation that left a lasting impression on Patterson.
"I just had to accept that I needed treatment, and it was humbling to do that," Patterson said. "All my beliefs came into question. Where is God? But I kept my beliefs and my faith.'