Presentation of Rachel Maryles: Fellow 2010

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I am the Assistant Director of the Religious Diversity in Health Care program at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.  Our health care work focuses on cultural competency through the lens of religion, as we believe religion is one of the most influential – but often neglected – components of culture.  Many providers simply aren’t comfortable discussing religious issues with their patients and lack the time, training and communication skills to respectfully inquire about patients’ religious beliefs.  However, religio-cultural practices and religious beliefs impact treatment and decision-making in countless ways including medication; diet; dress/modesty; holiday observances; informed consent; the interplay of traditional healing methods with western medicine; family involvement; and end-of-life rituals, among others. 
Our program's mission is to raise awareness of the religio-cultural factors that are proven to exert a major impact on healthcare outcomes, and train providers in core practices and critical communication skills so that they are prepared to respectfully inquire about patients’ religious beliefs, respond appropriately and anticipate potential areas of conflict.  
We recently published a book entitled The Medical Manual for Religio-Cultural Competence: Caring for Religiously Diverse Populations with EmblemHealth which includes information on the intersection of religion and health across ten major world religions.
I have a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Social-Organizational Psychology from Teachers College/Columbia University.  I am a mother of four children and live in Long Island, NY.  One of my all time favorite sayings is "laughter is the best medicine."

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