Inginia Genao, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of General Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Department of Multi-Cultural Affairs at Grady Memorial Hospital, has received a $25,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation to implement cultural competency training for nursing staff at Grady Hospital. The project is a first for Dr. Genao, who began a cultural competency curriculum in 1999 to educate Emory medical students and residents about the nuances of various cultures representing the Grady patient population.
The Aetna grant is an extension of Dr. Genao's cultural competency program, and will improve patient care by helping nurses understand and become more aware of cultural backgrounds and how cultural beliefs affect patients' health practices. It is in collaboration with the Henry W. Grady Foundation and the Language Interpretive Services Department at Grady, which provides patient interpretation and translation services in several different languages.
"Nurses play a crucial role in the care that we provide our patients," explains Dr. Genao, who will oversee the grant. "We feel that it is important that we actually train hospital personnel in cultural competency. An individual's culture is inseparable from their health. Our staff should understand how someone's culture and background can impact their overall health as well as any nuances involved in providing them with specific healthcare services."
The frequency and size of the training classes will dictate how many nurses will be trained. For now, Dr. Genao expects emergency medicine and surgical nurses and those in the general medical clinics to be among the first to receive training.
Dr. Genao is the founder and medical director of the International Medical Clinic at Grady, which sees a host of Hispanic, Ethiopian and African-American patients each year. While the majority of her patients are Hispanic, Dr. Genao says cultural competency training will help nurses learn that certain diseases, such as diabetes, are more prevalent among certain ethnic groups like Hispanics than whites. In turn, nurses will learn how patients' eating habits lend to their health risks and how to help them modify their lifestyle and dietary choices.
Dr. Genao says she plans to apply for future grant funding to provide training for clerical and support staff, dieticians, and administrators.
"We're hoping this (training) program will grow and grow and grow," she says. "It will really enhance our ability to serve all of our patients."