Pledge, you committed yourself to fulfilling certain duties, not only to those entrusted to your care but also to all members of the health care team. It is this commitment to service and to human beings that has traditionally distinguished the United States Navy Hospital Corps wherever its members have served.
As a health care provider, you must be able to identify, understand, master, and use various kinds of information and scientific skills. In addition to information data and scientific skills, it is also very important that you develop a special kind of skill called interpersonal relations. In providing total patient care, it is important that you see the individual not only as a biological being but as a thinking, feeling person. Your commitment to this concept is the key to the development of good interpersonal relationships.
Simply stated, your interpersonal relationships are the result of how you regard and respond to people. Many elements influence the development of that regard and those responses. In the following discussion, some of these elements will be discussed as they apply to your involvement in the military service and your relationships with other health care providers and the consumer.
Because of the cross-cultural nature and military mission of the Navy Medical Department, you will frequently encounter members of various cultures. Culture may be defined as a group of socially learned, shared standards (norms) and behavior patterns. Things such as perceptions, values, beliefs, and goals are examples of shared norms; whereas health practices, eating habits, and personal hygiene reflect common behavior patterns of specific groups of people. An understanding of common norms and behavior patters enhances the quality and often quantity of service a provider is able to make available. An individuals cultural background has an effect on every area of health care services, ranging from a simple technical procedure to the content and effectiveness of health education activities. Becoming familiar with the beliefs and practices of different cultural and subcultural groups (the military community for example) is not only enriching to the health care provider but promotes an understanding and acceptance of the various peoples in the world community.
The term race is a classification assigned to a group of people who share inherited physical characteristics. This term becomes a socially significant reality since people tend to attach great importance to assuming or designating a racial identity. Information identifying racial affiliation can be an asset to the health care provider in assessing the patients needs, carrying out direct care activities, and planning and implementing patient education programs. Racial identification has the potential to create a negative environment in the health care setting when factors such as skin color differences motivate prejudicial and segregational behaviors. When this is permitted to occur, an environment that feeds a multitude of social illnesses and destructive behaviors develops. In the Navy Medical Department, no expressions or actions based on prejudicial attitudes will be tolerated.
It is both a moral and legal responsibility of the health care provider to render services with respect for the life and human dignity of the individual without regard to race, creed, sex, political views, or social status.
A large majority of people have some form of belief system that guides many of their life decisions and to which they turn to in times of distress. A persons religious beliefs frequently help give meaning to suffering and illness; they also may be helpful in the acceptance of future incapacities or death.
Close contact with illness and death can increase our awareness of our own mortality and that of our patients. For some there will be heightened religious involvement and for others a sense of frustration or loneliness. It is important for health care personnel to be aware of this to meet the needs of patients, co-workers, and even ourselves. We must accept in a nonjudgmental way the religious or nonreligious beliefs of others as valid for them, even if we personally disagree with such beliefs. Although we may offer religious support when asked and should always provide chaplain referrals when requested or indicated, it is not ethical for us to abuse our patients by forcing our beliefs (or nonbeliefs) upon them. We must respect their freedom of