diverse ethnicity medical staff

Discussing Ethnic Background

One question that often arises is whether a medical assistant should discuss his or her ethnic background, customs and heritage with a patient, or brush them off and pretend you did not hear it when a patient asks: “Where are you from,” or “what is that accent?”

Don’t think that others won’t be interested in your cultural background. While wearing your name tag visibly provides people with your first and last name and your credentials, it does not tell them who you are. Naturally, in a medical office were you deal with people from all walks of life in close proximity and contact, and close relationships are formed, a patient might be curious and ask you where you are from.


Your Heritage and Culture Is Who You Are

Never assume others should know your heritage based on your name alone. In fact, even if they can figure it out, they may not understand the nuances of your culture and wish to get to know you a little better. It is natural for people to be curious about others, especially in a medical office setting where patients from unique and close relationships with the doctor and their medical assistants. Allowing them to understand your customs, upbringing and roots a little better helps them to understand you as an individual and might open them up to you. Some older patients, or those with special needs, or certain beliefs might be a bit reserved and nervous and responding to them in a pleasant way might quickly help them to relax before a painful procedure and put them at ease. Just keep the conversation short. A brief answer often reveals more than an elaborate explanation.

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