Culture is identified as customs, arts, achievements, and social institutions of a specific nation, group of people, or social group. Culture is valued by all walks of life due to its ability to assign an identity, influence values, points of view, humor, loyalties, worries, fears, and celebrations. The nursing profession requires the ability to create relationships with strangers from all walks of life. Nurses can only benefit from developing perspective and gaining an understanding of other cultures to tailor appropriate care. The following paper will attempt to discuss the eight reasons why transcultural nursing is a necessary specialty as outlined by Madelaine Leininger, will describe the meaning of culture in my own words, and will discuss three ways in which culturally sensitive care can be provided.
Eight Factors That Influence Transcultural Nursing
Madeline Leininger better known as the founder of transcultural nursing identified how culture plays a significant role in changing ways in which patients understand their diagnosis, respond to pain, and even describe their symptoms. One factor identified that influences transcultural nursing is travel and migration of people. Flying has become easier, faster, and more affordable. Almost every shift I work I find myself taking care of a patient who is visiting from outside the country. Living in Southern California, it is ubiquitous to serve a large Hispanic population many of whom may or may not speak English.
Another factor influencing transcultural nursing care is identified as an increase in multicultural identity which commands cultural values, beliefs, and way of life to be acknowledged, honored and respected by medical staff. I experience this often when patients request to have a female nurse for specific procedures. Also, technology is playing a significant, influential role for both health care providers and patients alike in its ability to connect people globally and simultaneously. This has it’s pros and cons, for instance, we utilize a software service on iPads that enables us to communicate with a translator for any language on the planet within 30 seconds. This software is invaluable to help us communicate with our patients who do not speak English.
On the other hand, we also contract out for both radiology and tele-neurology where we are unable to request that the specialist has any training or familiarity with the patient’s culture. This can be overwhelming for the patient and may come off as insensitive to their needs and beliefs. With continued advances in technology and affordability in travel, global cultural conflicts and violence have increased impacting health care as we see more cultures interacting with one another. Travel again plays a significant role affecting transcultural nursing because individuals now work abroad all over the world and live in areas of culture that can be unfamiliar to them especially when seeking care. Cultural conflicts influenced by ignorance and negligence have contributed to increases in litigation. Gender issues feed demands to meet care expectations for both age-specific and gender-specific needs of men, women, and children. Rising demands for community and culturally based clinical services in underserved communities is underappreciated and challenging to facilitate.
What Is Cultural Diversity?
Cultural diversity has been defined in many ways. For instance, some interpret cultural diversity as ethnicity, race, language, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, and how these population differences are represented within a given community. Others may interpret cultural diversity more simplistically such as a variety of cultural or ethnic groups that exist together within a society. To be successful nurses, we must possess the ability to adapt to changing values or beliefs from the populations in which we serve (Ardon & Wilson, 2013). Although cultural diversity is a good thing it has often been described as an ethnocentric term due to its attention on labeling how individuals are different from “me” instead of focusing on how different “I” am from others (Andrews & Boyle, 2016). Cultural diversity will continue to play an essential role as the world continues to become more diverse. Constant change, growth, and technology transformation are the driving forces that will help pave the way to increased cultural transparency.
How I Provide Culturally Sensitive Care to My Patients
One method to provide culturally sensitive care to patients doesn’t involve any experience or formal training whatsoever; you just have to start with curiosity. Cultural competence is dynamic, ongoing, and lifelong process that requires self -reflection from the nurse to maintain patient respect while abstaining from judging the patient’s beliefs, behaviors, language and literacy levels (Andrews & Boyle, 2016). One method in which I always try to provide culturally sensitive care is bringing another nurse into the room with me (when available) to help me translate any discharge instructions to ensure that all of the patient’s questions are being answered appropriately to ensure better the patient follows through with their plan of care.
Another way I try to provide culturally sensitive care is to ensure that family members who are in the waiting room are brought back promptly to be at the bedside to support the patient as well as participate in their plan of care. After two years at the bedside in high volume emergency departments, I have learned to become more aware of my own beliefs (although this is still ongoing) and assumptions. One example of this are patients that come in with abscesses from injecting drugs. I can honestly say that when I first started, I was a bit judgmental and couldn’t wrap my head around the illness and how cyclical the drug addiction was. I’m now able to step back and see the patient as an individual with a life-long illness who needs help rather than solely viewing that person as a drug addict. I’ve seen my ignorance in the form of lacking patience with these individuals transform because I was able to step back from judgment to realize that the real addiction is an illness and the individual is looking for help. Although there are large numbers of cultures and subcultures within our world, to know everything about every culture is unrealistic, however, culturally competent care is deliverable through the development of cultural assessment skills and cross-cultural communication (Andrews & Boyle, 2016).
In conclusion, transcultural nursing is a career-long developing skill that requires an individual to develop a heightened sense of awareness to their own biases and ignorances to other cultures within their patient populations. This heightened sense of awareness fosters the development of cultural competence enabling the treatment teams to effectively deliver their services to meet and exceed cultural, social, and linguistic wishes of their patients (Mendes, 2018).
- Andrews, M. M., & Boyle, J. S. (2016). Transcultural concepts in nursing care (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.
- Ardon, K., & Wilson, K. (2013). Cultural Diversity: What role does it play in patient safety. Nursing for Women’s Health, 14(4), 322-326. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j1751-486X.2013.01563.x
- Mendes, A. (2018, July 26). Providing culturally sensitive dementia care in the acute setting. British Journal of Nursing, 27(14), 831. http://dx.doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2018.27.14.831