In nursing and healthcare the issue of culture is more pronounced than anywhere else. This is because many people various ethnic, religious, racial and cultural backgrounds come forth to hospitals and healthcare centres in search of health solutions. Due to these cultural disparities, patients often fail to receive quality services because of practices that are lacking in cultural competence.
Cultural competence in nursing and healthcare refers to the efficiency with which a healthcare provider is able to offer quality service in a cross-cultural setting thus enhancing the system’s or institution’s capacity to function in effective manners (Dolhun, E. P. et al 2003). Culture influences an individual’s values, perceptions, beliefs and opinions. It influences how patients respond to healthcare givers and the medication prescribed to them. Therefore it is very important that nurses and other medical practitioners seek to improve their awareness towards the issues raised by cultural diversity in order to improve on service delivery.
This paper examines ways in which a nurse can be more culturally competent. It also examines the opportunities in the work place and nursing school that requires culturally focused health practices. Additionally the paper discusses the issues of self-assessment and client assessment that is geared towards the delivery of culturally competent health solutions. Importance of Culture to Nursing. The US is comprised of the most culturally diverse population. A big percentage of the world’s ethnic, religious and cultural groups are represented in this population.
This has created a most unique opportunity as well as challenge to many organizations in the service delivery sector. This is because people from all cultures get ill at one point in time and they have to seek treatment. Nurses are thus presented with patients from very diverse cultural backgrounds. Culture influences how different people will respond to the different ways of health service delivery, interventions and treatment (Dolhun, E. P et al. 2003). It is therefore important for nurses to move towards achieving cultural competence in order to effectively deal with the challenges that come with the cultural reality.
Because of the demographic situation in America service providers are under pressure to provide more culturally correct services. The nursing profession cannot be left behind and therefore the need to comply with the changing needs is overwhelming. Language limitations are also another issue of concern in attaining cultural competence. Ethical Factor One ethical principle that guides nurses in their endeavour to provide culturally appropriate care is the appreciating that everyone regardless of their cultural persuasion is entitled to receive quality health care.
Cultural differences can influence the caregiver’s prejudices and bias towards a patient (Galanti G. A. 1997). In a similar way a patient can misconstrue the caregiver’s actions and words. This can serve to lower the quality of care given to this particular patient. Professional ethics require that there be no form of discrimination in the provision of health care but in a situation where there is prejudice on either party, then the quality of care is compromised. Similarly what is considered ethical may have serious consequences when viewed from a cultural context.
A fitting example is when the doctor feels obliged to divulge some information to a patient or a certain member of the family, because in some cultures it is believed that giving certain information to a sick person is unacceptable, the doctors ‘ethical’ actions may be viewed in very bad light Nurse’s responsibility Nurses are usually supposed to care for the general well being of a patient, they ought to be able to understand and empathize with the patient in order to cater for their physical and emotional needs. On an individual level, a nurse has a responsibility to learn the practices that are in accordance to cultural competence.
It is important that nurses should have an attitude that goes further than just learning acceptable cultural behaviours. Nurses must be motivated by compassion to the patients and driven by moral responsibility (Tervalon M. Murray-Garcia J. 1998). This allows them to display a genuine concern and is thus motivated to internalize harmonious attitudes towards achieving cultural competence. In a hospital setting a nurse is required to be able to anticipate the issues that may arise due to cultural disparities and lack of proficiency in certain languages.
They are also to understand the others’ points of view as well as appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of these points of view. In addition to this, respecting the cultural differences is key to the ability to provide culturally appropriate care. Since the issues raised by cultural diversity are multi-faceted in nature, they require a holistic approach that calls for a total overhaul in the nurses’ ways of thinking. There is no one culture that is the standard of what is good or bad and therefore an open mind is important as nurses move towards delivering health care that exemplifies cultural competence.
Achieving this kind of competence is only possible if one comes to self-awareness and recognizes their own values, beliefs, opinions, prejudices and biases (Dolhun, E. P. 2003). From here, they can be able to understand how they respond to different points of view from other. Inorder to come to self-awareness one needs to examine their own cultural and environmental backgrounds. An underlying ethnocentricity is part most people where one is protective and to an extent defensive when it comes to cultural differences (Switzer, G. E et al 1998).
However in the nursing practice each nurse should be flexible and work towards developing skills of responding to varied cultural settings and situations. Nursing Schools Similarly in nursing schools one is required to meet most of the aforementioned standards. In addition to that communication skills are developed in school. Learning to communicate effectively in a cultural context entails being open-minded, respectful and shunning any form of prejudice or bias (Robins, L. et al 1998). It is a great opportunity to learn form and about other cultures.
Other communication skills that are essential are listening skills that enable one to establish a rapport with the others. Language skills also play an important role in communication and as such each student nurse has a responsibility to learn other languages. Ofcourse it is not possible to learn all the languages there are but one can do their best and that is what is required of them. In the same way nurses should have skills that would enable them to assess the patient in a cultural context. This would entail finding out as much detail on the patient as possible.
It would help to understand their ethnic background, socio-economic class, religion, age group and other social entities that they identify with. Learning about their experiences could also aid in establishing biases. Impact of culture on health care In the year 2010 more than 45% of all patients in the US will come from minority cultures. This is due to immigration that is the greatest contributor to the cultural diversity (Tervalon M. Murray-Garcia J. 1998). The health sector has realized the reality of these facts and medical practitioners are now given incentives to encourage them to take up learning on cultural diversity.
This is changing the entire medical profession. Many initiatives have been put in place in order to bridge health differences that exist between minority groups and the white Americans. The existence of cultural difference may impact negatively on the care given. Cultural factor do affect the response to the different methods of treatment and diagnosis. Some ideas are perceived differently in different cultures and in some extreme cases family members can react in ways that may seem bizarre in the western world. Conclusion
The issue of culture is increasingly attaining great importance with the ever-changing cultural mixture. The provision of healthcare is now taking cognizance of the effects of culture on the delivery of these vital services. It has been realized that cultural differences have been an impact on the quality of care given. Nurses and other medical practitioner are now under increased pressure to attain cultural competence in order to achieve high standards of quality. This paper opines the achievement of an all round cultural competence is a long journey. It will take a collective as well as an individual effort to achieve.
Nurses have a personal responsibility to seek to understand the cultural factor. Additionally each one of them needs to appreciate their moral duty to seek self-awareness inorder to understand their own behaviour in response to other people with a differing opinion. Respect and a non-judgemental attitude are important if one is to overcome the ethnocentricity that is part of every human being. This awareness cultivates interest and inquiry. Once this point has been reached cultural differences will be viewed as learning opportunities that will spur personal growth. Reference
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