Blog 2: Presenting my research at the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Attending the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention was a meaningful and extremely worthwhile experience as an aspiring Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). An estimated 20,000 people of all different professions united with two interests alike, speech and hearing. Dr. Gregory and I presented our poster “Cultural Humility: Examining Microaggressions to Improve Clinical Encounters” on the first day of the three-day convention. Our poster was displayed amongst hundreds of researchers work on various topics including telepractice, cognitive disorders, health literacy, language in infants, and others focusing on different aspects within our career path. During our presentation time, professions from different regions of the world shared their perspective on microaggressions in the workplace and everyday life.

We were apart of relevant and sincere conversations that taught us new things regarding personal bias’ while being able to provide research that benefits all individuals within a community. A key take away from our presentation was the amount of people who identified with “self- evaluation” posing a huge barrier to achieving cultural humility. Self- evaluation is the ability to reevaluate and alter personal biases with the willingness to explore and appreciate a culture for what it is. Many people we spoke with addressed microaggressions as a “sensitive topic,” which placed even more emphasis on the importance of talking about how they impact our clients.

As we take all considerations and critiques away from our experience at ASHA, the next step is to implement our poster and checklist into local university clinics.  Additionally, we would like this checklist to be feasible for practicing clinicians and professors to introduce in their coursework.  As we try to spread awareness on the impact of microaggressive attitudes on a national level, it is equally important to ensure that we enforce the same beliefs here in our community. While continuing to focus on cultural humility, the survey and qualitative interviews on cultural competence and humility are underway as we work toward building questions that will give us reliable and significant results. The aim of this study is to identify undergraduate and graduate student experiences with microaggressions during clinical experiences.



Blog 1: Cultural Humility: Examining Microaggressions to Improve Clinical Encounters

As we enter the year 2020, health professionals all over the world are seeking to find the best possible methods, treatments, and evidenced based research to provide a positive and comprehensive experience for our clients.  Specifically, in the field of Communication and Science Disorders (CSD) the emerging conceptual shift from cultural competence to cultural humility is one of the many ways we can contribute to a worthwhile experience. Cultural humility is the ongoing process of reevaluating personal perspectives as they relate to culture outside of your own. It is the ability to constantly explore, learn, and appreciate a culture for all that it encompasses, aside from the conscious or unconscious biases held toward it. Cultural humility provides an enabling environment, while competence implies that there are boundaries to how far learning about a culture can go. As efforts to move away from competence increase, addressing microaggressions is a step toward achieving humility within the clinical setting.

A key component to this essential shift is dismantling the conscious and unconscious beliefs that shape our perspective of a particular culture, known as microaggressions. A deeper understanding of cultural humility and our awareness of our microaggressions combined will lead future and practicing clinicians to an increased amount of meaningful and trustworthy clinical encounters.

Microaggressions are subtle forms of bias insults that give denigrating messages specifically to individuals of color, minority groups, and people apart of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual Queer Intersex Asexual (LGBTQIA) community. They can focus on factors like socioeconomic status, gender, disability, and religion. Intentional or unintentional, they communicate hostile and degrading feelings toward clients that can often make them feel inferior, unintelligent, excluded, and invalidate their negative experiences within society.

To avoid such feelings, Dr. Gregory and I have generated a proposal and model that will assist future and practicing clinicians in leaving their microaggressions prior to any clinical encounter. The poster was accepted to the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention for next month in Orlando, Florida. In preparation for our poster presentation we have done an extensive amount of research on how cultural competence, humility, and microaggresion impact the lives of clients in therapy. The poster we present at the convention will advocate for the shift toward humility.

In addition to the professional education poster, Dr. Gregory, Dr. Ginsberg, and I will be working on developing a survey that addresses cultural competence and cultural humility among speech-language pathologists. The survey encourages clinicians to answer questions about what they believe cultural competence and humility means to them.

Witnessing and playing a role in such an essential transformation within CSD is both exciting and inspiring to watch. Making cultural humility a professional goal for clinicians has been a topic that both Dr. Gregory and I take pride in researching. We are hopeful for the results to come as we go through the process of supporting and pushing the shift toward cultural humility in the CSD profession.

Skyler O’Berry, Undergraduate student Communication Science and Disorders program