As professionals, nurses need to be aware of cultural differences in order to provide quality care to their patients. Culturally competent urses are sensitive to issues related to culture, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Furthermore, culturally competent nurses have achieved efficacy in communication skills, cultural assessments, and knowledge acquisition related to health practices of different cultures. Cultural competence involves nurses continuously striving to provide effective care within the cultural confines of their patients.
The most comprehensive definition of cultural competence in nursing practice is stated as being an ongoing process with a goal of achieving the ability to ork effectively with culturally diverse persons, and additionally, to care for these individuals with a keen awareness of diversity, a strong knowledge base and skills in transcultural nursing, and especially a strong personal and professional respect for others from various cultures (Leininger, 2002). Leininger was the first to introduce the concept of transcultural nursing as a working theory and it continues to be one of the most important works on the subject.
Leninger theory focuses on relationship between culture and care on health and wellness. The purpose of her theory is for nurses to understand different factors of care that based on culture. When communicating with patients from different cultures nurse needs to be aware of patient’s family background. Cross-cultural communication involves several aspects that should be understood in order to achieve cultural competency, which is necessary in order to provide optimal nursing care (Andrews, 2003).
Nonverbal cues play a vital role in conveying messages, and these may vary considerably among different cultures. Understanding these communication cues and their meanings to ersons of different cultures is necessary in order for nurses to attain and maintain cultural competency. Although it is not likely that nurses will master many languages, understanding the meaning of certain nonverbal communication cues used by care (Maier Lorentz , 2008, p. 38) For example, eye contact with person you communicate interpreted differently by people from different cultures.
Some expect that you look them in the eyes and some consider this offensive. As a nurse, I encounter patients from numerous cultures. I do not know about the culturally-based, health-related beliefs and practices of all people. However, I try to gain knowledge and skills in cross-cultural communication to help provide individualized care that is based on cultural practices. For example, for religious Jewish patients, our hospital provides special ‘electric’ candles they could use for their religious ceremony and I try to make sure that discharge from the hospital does not fall on Saturday.
When I had Asian patient who refused pain medication and said his discomfort was bearable, I did explain to the patient that he does not have to tolerate pain but I understood that this is part of their culture. Chinese are taught elf restrained. We currently have the patient who belongs to “Jehovah Witness” religious group who is anemic but he can’t receive blood transfusion. The example above is rather extreme and most of patients I deal with try not to focus on their cultural\religious background.
Regardless of their cultural background, they are focusing on a goal of obtaining best health results with treatments available. While providing culturally aware nursing puts additional responsibilities on the nurse and not all patience expect or require it, transcultural nursing is very important in daily nursing practice. The ever-growing number of patients from different cultural backgrounds creates a challenge for nurses to provide care based on patient’s cultural needs.
This requires nurses to understand cultural differences in healthcare values, beliefs, and customs. Nurses must be open-minded and have a positive interest as well as a sincere desire to learn other cultural ways. The most effective way to accomplish this is for nurses to increase their awareness of cultural differences and become knowledgeable about the cultural preferences of their patients. (Maier Lorentz , 2008, p. 42). Reference Maier Lorentz , M. M. 2008). Transcultural Nursing :lts importance in nursing practice.