Promoting Cultural Proficiency and Community Engagement in Health Care Hiring: Strategies for Diversity Success


A human resource manager works at a small hospital in a rural community of 30,000 mostly Spanish-speaking people in southern New Mexico. The hospital has a job opportunity for a business manager for a new outpatient clinic that is about to open. The human resources manager is considering three different candidates for the position: An individual who grew up in the community and just completed an undergraduate degree in Health Administration from an in-state college about five hundred miles away. She completed an internship but has no other practical experience. A bilingual man in his fifties who has spent his entire career working at the local bank in finance, helping to get loans for regional farms or other businesses. He wishes to switch to a more personally fulfilling opportunity. A nurse who works at a large hospital in the state capital, about two hundred miles away, who would like to transition from direct patient care to management. She is well-liked and has had excellent performance reviews. She grew up on tribally owned lands for the Navajo and needs to return to care for her elderly parents. The CEO of the hospital catches the HR manager in the hospital cafeteria, and he mentions that he has just returned from a national conference and learned a lot about diversity in hiring. He passes on these thoughts. Achieving diversity in health care management requires commitment among all professionals including entry-level staff, middle managers, and senior executives. Five solutions for diversity success include being sensitive to cultural differences in the workplace, establishing strategic goals that emphasize cultural diversity, seeking regular input from employees about diversity initiatives, promoting minorities from within, and mentoring them as well. The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE, 2020) calls for “awareness of diversity issues, hiring practices that attract diverse staff, development and mentoring in educational programs and organizations, and organization wide diversity training,” which are all key practices on which HR needs to focus. “Our country’s increasingly diverse communities result in a more diverse patient population” (ACHE, 2020) and require a more diverse health care workforce. The Institute for Diversity in Health Management is a resource for strategies, programs, and leadership initiatives with the goal of having the health care workforce in the United States reflect the makeup of the communities served. Given the current U.S. demographic trend of moving toward a minority nation and the need for all health care organizations to adhere to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care, achieving greater diversity in the health care workforce will continue to be an important challenge ( Within health professions, the representation of Hispanics, Native Americans, and African Americans is lower than their representation in the general population. The American Hospital Association data indicated that most hospital CEOs were white, whereas only 62% of the population was white. Studies have suggested that by increasing diversity, the field of health care management can improve work-place culture, enhance community relations, and have an overall positive impact on the health of the community (ACHE, 2020). Discussion Questions Give examples of three to five questions that could be asked during the interview to determine the candidate’s cultural proficiency and explain why the questions are important. Should cultural proficiency and community awareness be rated more highly and thus given greater importance than other qualifications in the hiring process? Health care organizations must engage the communities they serve to improve cultural proficiencies and reduce health disparities. Describe three to five community engagement strategies the newly hired outpatient clinic could implement. What strategies can health care organizations use to evaluate the effectiveness of their diversity and cultural proficiency strategies? Reply to the questions with a thorough analysis.


Promoting Cultural Proficiency and Community Engagement in Health Care Hiring: Strategies for Diversity Success


Achieving diversity and cultural proficiency in health care management is crucial for creating inclusive work environments and effectively serving diverse patient populations. In the context of a small hospital in a rural community, the human resources manager must prioritize cultural proficiency when hiring a business manager for a new outpatient clinic. This essay explores interview questions to assess candidates’ cultural proficiency, the importance of cultural proficiency in the hiring process, community engagement strategies for the outpatient clinic, and methods to evaluate the effectiveness of diversity and cultural proficiency strategies.

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Interview Questions to Determine Cultural Proficiency

1 Can you describe an experience where you successfully worked with a diverse team or community? How did you adapt your communication and approach to accommodate cultural differences?

This question assesses the candidate’s ability to navigate cultural diversity, communicate effectively, and adapt to varying cultural contexts—a critical skill in promoting cultural proficiency in the workplace.

  1. How do you ensure that your decision-making process considers the diverse needs and perspectives of stakeholders from different cultural backgrounds?

This question evaluates the candidate’s awareness of the importance of diversity in decision-making and their ability to incorporate diverse perspectives into their managerial approach, ultimately fostering an inclusive environment.

  1. Describe a time when you encountered a cultural barrier in the workplace or community and how you addressed it.

This question assesses the candidate’s problem-solving skills in overcoming cultural barriers, demonstrating their ability to navigate cultural sensitivity and find inclusive solutions.

Importance of Cultural Proficiency in the Hiring Process

Cultural proficiency and community awareness should be rated highly in the hiring process for the following reasons:

Improved Patient Care: Cultural proficiency enhances patient satisfaction, health outcomes, and reduces health disparities. Hiring individuals who understand and respect diverse cultural beliefs and practices allows for better patient-provider relationships and culturally competent care.

Workforce Diversity: A diverse workforce fosters innovation, creativity, and increased cultural competence within the organization. Cultural proficiency contributes to a positive work environment, better collaboration, and improved understanding among staff members.

Community Connection: Hiring individuals with cultural proficiency ensures that the outpatient clinic can effectively engage with the local community, understand their unique needs, and provide tailored services. This connection strengthens community trust and increases the likelihood of positive health outcomes.

Community Engagement Strategies for the Outpatient Clinic

Cultural Competency Training: Provide comprehensive training for all staff members to enhance cultural awareness, understanding, and communication skills. This training should emphasize local cultural nuances and specific needs of the community.

Collaborative Partnerships: Establish partnerships with community organizations, cultural groups, and local leaders to foster meaningful relationships. Engage in joint initiatives, community events, and culturally relevant health education programs to promote inclusivity and address health disparities.

Community Advisory Board: Create a board comprising community members, leaders, and representatives from diverse backgrounds to provide input, guidance, and feedback on clinic services, outreach strategies, and community needs. This board ensures community engagement and allows for ongoing community input.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Diversity and Cultural Proficiency Strategies

Health care organizations can use several strategies to assess the effectiveness of their diversity and cultural proficiency initiatives:

Surveys and Feedback: Collect feedback from staff, patients, and the community through surveys or focus groups to gauge their experiences and perceptions regarding cultural competency. Assess whether they feel heard, respected, and understood within the organization.

Employee Diversity Metrics: Track and analyze employee demographics, including race, ethnicity, and cultural backgrounds, to monitor progress towards a diverse workforce. Compare these metrics to the local community demographics to identify any disparities and develop targeted strategies.

Patient Outcomes and Satisfaction: Measure patient outcomes and satisfaction rates among diverse populations to evaluate the impact of cultural proficiency initiatives. Assess if the interventions have resulted in improved health outcomes and increased patient satisfaction across different cultural groups.


Promoting cultural proficiency and community engagement in health care hiring is essential for achieving diversity success and providing culturally competent care. By asking interview questions that assess candidates’ cultural proficiency, prioritizing cultural proficiency in the hiring process, implementing community engagement strategies, and evaluating the effectiveness of diversity initiatives, the newly hired outpatient clinic can create an inclusive environment, address health disparities, and enhance patient outcomes. Embracing diversity and cultural proficiency leads to stronger connections with the community, improved workplace culture, and ultimately, better health care outcomes for all.

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