Diversity and cultural awareness are an essential aspect of the contemporary nursing practice. Both patients and employees belong to different ethnic, cultural, and racial groups and have different perceptions of interpersonal relations and care (Jhutti-Johal, 2013). There has been a growing awareness of the importance of culturally competent care to manage these differences and make sure that care is not only effective and holistic but also acceptable and convenient for all stakeholders (Murphy, 2011). Therefore, the principle of cultural competence as respect for others has become central in the contemporary nursing practice.
Cultural differences may create many barriers to effective care. The lack of knowledge about a patient’s background and poor understanding of the specific needs, values, and beliefs often contribute to stereotyping, discrimination, prejudice, and racism. Nurses not able to identify and accept a patient’s cultural identity as part of his/her personality risk providing incompetent and inappropriate services. For example, it is important for a nurse to know that Muslim women may require a family member’s involvement in treatment. Hispanic immigrants, in turn, may need interpreters because of the limited language skills. Communicating with them may be challenging for nurses not speaking Spanish, so additional efforts should be made to deliver effective care to these patients.
Cultural competence is extremely important in dealing with diverse patients. This concept is defined as the ability to meet cultural, spiritual, and religious needs of clients. Being culturally competent means involving in ongoing education and knowledge. Nurses are expected to continually refine their interpersonal skills, acquire knowledge, and assess their own beliefs and attitudes in relation to diversity care (Huber, 2009). Their cultural competence is part of their job along with their primary professional responsibilities. Furthermore, the principle of cultural competence is based on the idea of improved patients’ involvement into the process of care. It is believed that when patients have a choice in their health-related plans and interventions, they are more likely to comply with treatment and achieve positive outcomes (Huber, 2009). Therefore, nurses should aim to deliver the best possible care in line with their patients’ diverse needs and perceptions. It is critical to understand that there is no universal approach to all patients; on the contrary, each person is an individual with unique beliefs, values, and goals that should be respected.
Huber, L. M. (2009). Making community health care culturally correct. American Nurse Today, 4(5). Retrieved from https://www.americannursetoday.com/making-community-health-care-culturally-correct/
Jhutti-Johal, J. (2013). Understanding and coping with diversity in healthcare. Health Care Anal., 21(3), 259-70. doi: 10.1007/s10728-013-0249-0.
Murphy, K. (2011). The importance of cultural competence. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, 9(2), 5.
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