Cultural diversity in nursing is concept that is derived from nursing and other cross-cultural health-related disciplines such as psychology, sociology and anthropology. Culture is simply used to refer to the belief systems held by groups of people in the society. Therefore, cultural diversity is defined as, “the differences between people based on a shared ideology and valued set of beliefs, norms, customs, and meanings evidenced in a way of life” (Lowe & Archibald, 2009). Culture influences individual’s behavior, perceptions and also interpretations. Therefore, integrating culture in healthcare is critical. This is in efforts to create a healthcare system that is sensitive to the needs of patients. For that reason, this essay focuses on cultural diversity in nursing by looking at the background of the issue, current trends, significance to nursing profession, controversies and strategies for dealing with cultural diversity.
Background and Historical Development of Cultural Diversity in Nursing
As defined earlier, cultural diversity refers to, “the differences between people based on a shared ideology and valued set of beliefs, norms, customs, and meanings evidenced in a way of life” (Lowe & Archibald, 2009). In the healthcare system, there are people from different cultural groups. For instance, we have people from different racial groups, ethnicity, tribe, religion and so forth. This includes both the providers and the patients. To a great extent, our culture defines our practice.
The concept of cultural diversity in nursing was first established in 1955 by Madeleine Leininger, one of the pioneers of transcultural nursing. As an area of knowledge, cultural diversity in nursing, also known as transcultural nursing, was aimed at equipping nurses with knowledge that will help them in delivering culturally appropriate nursing care (Lowe & Archibald, 2009).
Madeleine Leininger believed in the diversity and universality of cultural care. For that reason, he established transcultural nursing from the year 1955 to 1975. Madeleine refined the concept of transcultural nursing through the “sunrise model”. The expansion of the concept continued even after 1975 to present. In 1966, the University of Colorado started transcultural nursing courses. The concept was later established internationally in 1983 (Lowe & Archibald, 2009).
Current Trends in Cultural Diversity
Currently, there are several issues trending in regard to cultural diversity. Among them is the slow and episodic movement towards cultural diversity in nursing. According to Lowe and Archibald (2009) in the article entitled, “cultural diversity: The intention of nursing,” the nursing profession was since the introduction of cultural diversity in 1986 focused on provision of cultural-sensitive care. The authors express their concern that despite the continued cultural growth witnessed in the country, the same does not reciprocate inn nursing. The progress in nursing towards creating cultural diversity in nursing has been slow and episodic. Hence, there is need to put efforts in order to expand cultural-sensitive practices in nursing.
Another trending issue in respect to creation of a cultural diversified healthcare system is promotion of diversity. According to Pilkington, Singh, Prescod and Buettgen (2013) youth mentorship provides an important avenue for promoting cultural diversity. Through mentoring the youth, they will be equipped with relevant knowledge regarding diversity which will result in creation of a society which embraces diversity.
Significance of Cultural Diversity
Cultural diversity is a crucial concept in healthcare. Our current society is made of people from different ethnic, racial, religious and tribal groups. All these groups have their own culture. It is worth to mention that our culture affects how we interpret information, our perceptions and even behavior. These aspects of culture make it important in nursing practice.
The patient is always the center focus of care. Hence, the nurse is required to be sensitive to the needs of the patient. It is only through consideration of patient needs that the nurse is capable of establishing a strong therapeutic relationship with the patient. Establishing a strong relationship of trust with patients is important in involving the patients fully in their care (Pilkington, Singh, Prescod & Buettgen, 2013).
Among the needs of patients are the spiritual needs. Nurses in some cases will handle patients from different faiths. Under such cases, the nurse might not be aware of some of the spiritual needs of these patients. For instance, let us take a Christian nurse and a Muslim patient. Muslims are supposed to pray five times in a day, and cleanse themselves with water every time they visit a washroom. The failure of the nurse to identify such things may hinder creation of trust between the nurse and the patient. In other words, the nurse will fail to deliver culturally-competent care (Lowe & Archibald, 2009).
Therefore, providing culturally competent care is important in efforts to increase patient satisfaction, which translates to improved patient outcomes which signify improvement in quality of nursing care.
Impact of Cultural Diversity in Nursing Profession
The issue of cultural diversity greatly influences nursing profession and professional nursing practice. Nursing as a profession has for many years struggled to be seen as a field which is aimed at providing optimal care to the public. The profession is determined to be viewed in the light of universality, meaning it embraces people from all cultures. Therefore, by integrating cultural diversity, nursing profession will be recognized and respected in all parts of the world (Lowe & Archibald, 2009).
In the nursing practice, cultural diversity is paramount. Every healthcare facility and provider is determined to provide patient-centered care. This is due to the fact that among the six goals of healthcare is provision of patient-centered care. In order to provide patient-centered care, it is important to understand all the needs of the patient. This includes the culture. The nurse should understand what food the patient takes or does not take his or her beliefs and dressing style, among others. By doing so, the nurse will gain the trust from the patient which is important in the care. Eventually, the patient is satisfied with the quality of care which results in improved patient outcomes (Pilkington, Singh, Prescod & Buettgen, 2013).
Controversies Related to Nursing
Despite the benefits associated with integration of cultural diversity in healthcare, there are some areas of this concept that have brought about some controversies. Some cultural beliefs or practice are in contrary with the goals of healthcare. For instance, there are some people based on their faith who refuse to take any medication or seek conventional treatment. Hence, under such cases there is a controversy on which way to handle the situation (Pilkington, Singh, Prescod & Buettgen, 2013).
The other area of controversy is extreme faiths held by some people. In some cultures, some behaviors such as undressing before someone of opposite sex are considered immoral. Hence, when a nurse from an opposite gender s handling such a patient, there is always some controversy.
Enhancing Cultural Diversity in Nursing
As noted, cultural diversity is critical in nursing practice. Therefore, there is need to embrace this concept. In order to improve the progress towards establishing cultural competence in nursing, it is important to introduce courses on cultural diversity in nurse training curriculum (Pilkington, Singh, Prescod & Buettgen, 2013).
Another way of promoting cultural diversity in nursing is through training nurses on the importance having diversity at workplace. In addition, recruitment of nurses from different cultures will help in enhancing diversity in nursing.
Personally, I support the establishment of cultural diversity in nursing. My position is based on the benefits associated with establishment of this concept. Hence, enhancing cultural diversity is crucial in improving the quality of care (Pilkington, Singh, Prescod & Buettgen, 2013).
In conclusion, cultural diversity refers to “the differences between people based on a shared ideology and valued set of beliefs, norms, customs, and meanings evidenced in a way of life (Lowe & Archibald, 2009).” Cultural diversity in nursing is important in improving the quality of care. The concept of transcultural nursing was established in 1955 by Madeleine Leininger (Lowe & Archibald, 2009). American Nurses Association adopted the concept of cultural diversity in 1986. Currently, the progress of nursing profession towards establishment of culturally competent care is trending. Establishing a culturally competent nursing care is an important milestone in improving quality of care.
Lowe, J. & Archibald C. (2009).Cultural diversity: The intention of nursing. Nursing Forum Volume 44, No. 1. Pilkington, F., Singh, D., Prescod C. & Buettgen, A. (2013). Inclusive Mosaic: Promoting Diversity in Nursing through Youth Mentorship. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship Vol. 10(1): 1–10