Cultural Competency and Haitian Immigrants


Workforce Issues

Purnell's Model

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Family roles & organization
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Workforce issues

Biocultural ecology

High-risk behaviors

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Death rituals

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Health care practices
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Health care practitioners




  • Gender roles are strictly defined. For example, in healthcare, nurses are women, and physicians are men.29 Women are expected to fulfill gender specific roles. For example a Haitian man may expect his American female colleague to get him coffee without hesitation. Similarly,  Haitian nurses may be hesitant to confront male physicians, even when necessary.

  • The physician in Haiti is expected to be an authority, and is trusted to do what needs to be done.29 A Haitian physician in the U. S. may have difficulty with understanding the rationale behind informed consent.

  • Since Haitian immigrants tend to be present oriented and may not understand the U.S. concept of time, 15, 29, 30, 35  Haitian employees may have difficulty being on time to jobs.

  • Conflict may be experienced because female Haitian immigrants often find jobs easier than their mates. This leads to role reversal and perhaps conflict within the traditional family.35

  • Jobs that are commonly acquired by Haitian immigrants include low level service industry (hotel) employees, restaurant employees, or low-skilled laborers.4, 47 

  • If a Haitian immigrant cannot find work due to immigration status or other reasons, they have been known to create their own jobs such as tailor or childcare worker in the informal sector. This job is usually temporary, the preference being wage labor.32, 47 

  • New immigrants usually rely on advice from more settled Haitians on how to find a job. This may include tips or actual interviews set up with people who are known to employ Haitians. Sometimes churches also help with job searches.32

Copyright  2003