Cultural Competency of Nursing

As nurses, we not only need to understand cultural competence, but we also have to be sure not to generalize groups of people. Each client is an individual, and it is important to form a therapeutic relationship so we can care for each specific client. Each client has his/her own needs; just because two people are of the same culture, it doesn’t mean that he/she believes in the same thing. In turn, nurses need to understand their own culture and beliefs before caring for a person of a different culture or beliefs.

In our research, we chose four peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles found though the Lambton College data base (CINAHL). We began with a search of cultural competency and then narrowed the search down through specific cultures which are within the Sarnia Lambton area. Understanding Cultures

There are many different cultures throughout Canada; nurses need to be aware of the different practices and beliefs of various cultures. The dominant cultures we find in Sarnia-Lambton are Native American, East Indian and Chinese.

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Native American

Traditional Native Americans place great value on family and spiritual beliefs. They believe that a state of health is an existence, and it is in existence when they are in complete balance with nature. They view illness as a disparity between the ill person and nature or the unearthly. “Death is a journey to another world, and the spirit never dies” (Plain, 2014). When mourning the dead it is the custom not to speak about them.

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“Communication is seen as stopping the dead from travelling to the next world” (Groot – Alberts, 2012, p. 160).

East Indian
The Muslim culture has a strong spiritual belief:
Both life and death are under the control of God. When an ill Muslim patient sees a physician, he/she only want to know the diagnosis; he/she does not want to know any time frames, since life is an act of. In death, Muslim culture is based on reducing the patient’s pain and suffering. Nurses need to allow time for families to pray when working with Muslim patients as they have strong beliefs in religion and a nurse must never try to push their own beliefs on a patient (Saccomano & Abbatiello, 2014, p. 31). Chinese

Traditional Chinese culture is unlike Canadian culture:
Talking about death or illness is considered a taboo. They do not talk to their healthcare provider about death, because talking about death or illness insinuates that it is going to happen. Instead, they keep silent about it to relieve stress and give hope to the person. Generally, it is the male family member that makes decisions on behalf of the person (Saccomano & Abbatiello, 2014, p.31). Understanding the Client

Nurses cannot generalize groups of people; every client is an individual and has the right to be treated as one. It is important to form a good communication to build a relationship between the patient and the nurse. This enables the patient to contribute to their care and the allows the nurse to provide the best care possible. “It is extremely important to educate, involve the patient, incorporate the family and utilize traditions and beliefs, using effective communication and culture safety mechanisms” (McCracken, 2014, p. 28). “A nurse must communicate with patients about how he/she would like care performed on him/her and the nurse’s goal is to ensure the patient feels empowered and unique” (McCracken, 2014, p. 28). The patient indicates what is suitable and important for them. At times print materials or non-verbal communication may be more constructive. Conclusion

Canada is a diverse, multi-cultural country and the provision of culturally competent care by nurses is important aspect of their practice. Every culture regards health differently depending on their practices and beliefs. Nurses must examine their own beliefs and prejudices as well as respect and have an awareness of other cultures. “In delivering nursing care we must allow effective interactions and the development of appropriate responses to persons from diverse cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds” (Masteral, 2014). Today’s nurses must have cultural awareness in themselves and cultural knowledge of others.


Groot-Alberts, L. (2012). The lament of a broken heart: mourning and grieving in different cultures. Progress in Palliative Care, 20(3), 158-162. Retrieved from McCracken, D. (2014). Nursing in a bicultural society. Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, 20(1), 28-29. Retrieved from Mcgee, P., & Johnson, M. (2014). Developing cultural competence in palliative care. British Journal of Community Nursing, 19(2), 91-93. Retrieved from Saccomano, S., & Abbatiello, G. (2014). Cultural considerations at the end of life. The Nurse Practitioner. 39(2), 24-31. doi: 10.1097/01.NPR.0000441908.16901.2e Zager, S., & Yancy, M. (2011). A call to improve practice concerning cultural sensitivity in advance directives: A review of the literature. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing. doi: 10.111/j.1741-6787.2011.00222.x Masteral, L., (2013) Multicultural Health Care Setting. Retrieved from

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Cultural Competency of Nursing. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

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