In today’s nursing profession, culturally competent nursing care is increasingly important. According to the United States Census Bureau (2012) minorities currently account for approximately 37% of the U.S. population. It is projected that the minority population will grow to 57% by the year 2060 (United States Census Bureau, 2012). Nurses are expected to provide culturally sensitive and appropriate care to all individuals. Developing professional cultural competence ensures that nurses can overcome cultural barriers due to differences in cultures, beliefs, and values.
Cultural awareness, knowledge, sensitivity, and skills are all important in regards to cultural competence in nursing. Cultural awareness refers to acknowledging that there are other cultures that differ from your own. The first step in in developing cultural awareness is becoming aware of differences in cultures and acknowledging any biases that may exist within your own personal belief (Giger, 2017). I was able to develop my professional growth by acknowledging that there are many different cultures within the world, this understanding is essential in the development of cultural competence within the nursing profession.
Cultural knowledge refers to the understanding of the variety of different cultures within the United States. It is nearly impossible to learn about all the specific aspects of different cultures, but it is possible to learn skills that enable you to provide culturally appropriate nursing care. An example of cultural knowledge is to be aware that Native Americans are often very stoic in regards to pain (Giger, 2017). It is important for the nurse to be aware of cultural differences in order to provide high-quality nursing care.
Cultural sensitivity refers to the nurse being understanding of different needs and values of different cultures. There are some cultures that are not always open to expressing their cultural differences and is important to accept and make culturally diverse patients feel accepted, despite their cultural differences. An example of displaying cultural sensitivity would be to not show judgment or prejudices on a particular aspect of a certain culture. By showing that you are sensitive to the needs and values of different cultures, you increase the level of quality care and increase patient satisfaction.
Cultural skills refers to the specific nursing skills that are necessary to provide appropriate and respectful nursing care to culturally diverse patients. It is important for the nurse to be aware of cultural differences that may require the use of specific cultural skills. For example, the nurse must be aware that some cultures may feel uncomfortable with direct eye contact. The nurse would then need to adjust his/her communication skills with this patient to ensure they are comfortable and respected.
Opportunities for Professional Growth
There are many opportunities within the field of nursing to develop, grow, and build cultural competence. The first example to grow in cultural competence is to continue to study outside resources, such as additional textbooks and journals regarding different cultures and their specific needs/values. The more I know about differences in cultures, the more prepared I will be in providing their care. Second, I will actively participate in future clinicals and observe how other nurses use specific skills while providing care for culturally diverse patients. Observing can be a great way to supplement learning. Lastly, I will grow in cultural competence by implementing the knowledge and skills that I have learned from this course into my own practice. I will then ask my patients their opinion on my care and ask if there is anything I can change or do to make them more comfortable with the care that I provide.
Skills Related to Transcultural Nursing
Throughout this course, I have gained many valuable skills related to providing high-quality and culturally competent nursing care. One specific skill that I have learned is to not assume the meaning of gestures. For example, a culturally incompetent nurse can potentially assume that a head nod from a certain culturally diverse patient is a sign that it is acceptable to administer them penicillin, when in fact the head nod indicated a denial to the administration of penicillin. If the patient was allergic to the medication; this error would have put the patient in direct danger. A second example of a skill that I have learned is to be aware of personal space and touch while interviewing and performing nursing care on culturally diverse patients. Invading personal space and the use of touch can make certain individuals uncomfortable; it is always important to ask their comfort level and watch for non-verbal signs of discomfort.
In conclusion, providing culturally appropriate and sensitive nursing care is an essential part of today’s nursing practice. Providing culturally competent care is an area that nurses and other healthcare professionals need to make a conscious effort to strive towards. In order to provide such care, the nurse needs to culturally assess each of their patients and openly communicate by asking culturally specific questions related to the patient’s health.