My preceptor has assigned me plenty of reads to enhance my experience as a student-nutritionist this summer. Without getting into specific details about the clinic I work at, I can say that a large portion of our patients are refugees, immigrants, or both. I have been enriched by various cultural experiences right with my own patients. This book was extremely fitting.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a story about a Hmong family who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. The large family settled in Merced, California among other Hmong families. The Lee family had a healthy daughter named Lia who later developed a seizure disorder when she was 3 months old. This story describes the challenges with a language barrier, and not only that, but the lack of similar terminology across different languages. During certain parts, when Lia was brought to the emergency department, I couldn’t stop reading.
If you plan on going into medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or any other allied healthcare profession, READ THIS STORY.
In the United States, we nearly unanimously agree with modern medicine and our healthcare system. When you go to an ER, you expect to wait. You trust the physicians to diagnose you based on how they examine you, what your scan looks like, and how your labs come back. We believe and trust our doctors, and if we don’t, we can get a second opinion. What if something goes horribly wrong in our care? A misdiagnosis that leads to mistreatment? We have options. But if those things cannot be communicated, much less understood, would you feel safe trusting these professionals?
This story is a reminder of perspective and that our system in the US is simply one way of tackling the healing process. That’s all it comes down to; wanting the best for our patients and their families and making them feel better. That’s why we choose medicine. If you choose to read this story, which I highly encourage, you will learn so much about the US medical system, you will learn about the Hmong culture, and you will learn to be more culturally sensitive. Find it here.