Self-Awareness with Vulnerable Populations: Hispanic Culture

Table of Content

The nursing profession highly values caring for a culturally diverse group of patients. Health care professionals recognize that a person’s cultural background, values, and beliefs can have an impact on their health and how they respond to medical treatment. Nursing also places great importance on caring for vulnerable populations, with a specific emphasis on the Hispanic community.

The Hispanic population in the United States has experienced substantial growth, with a fifty-eight percent increase between 1990 and 2000 (Kanna, Fersobe, Soni, & Michelen, 2008). The terms “Hispanic,” “Latino,” and “Latina” are frequently used interchangeably to encompass individuals from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish West Indies (Weaver, 2011). Regrettably, individuals often develop biases and stereotypes towards cultures that differ from their own.

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Prejudice and bias towards the Hispanic population encompass their resistance to learning English, low socioeconomic status, improper use of government resources and assistance, accepting significantly lower wages, and lacking official citizenship. The language barrier presents a difficulty in providing care for these individuals, as a translator is required for effective communication and patient education. Additionally, educating on a nutritious diet may prove challenging, given that the Hispanic diet is not typically considered the healthiest.

Nurses perceive the Hispanic population as lacking compliance with recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, diet, and medication plan. There is a persistent prejudice that most Hispanics are uninsured and unable to afford prescribed medications. The initial approach to fostering successful relationships across diverse cultures is demonstrating self-awareness. This involves being mindful through self-reflection of personal attitudes and beliefs towards races or cultures (Vargas & Wilson, 2011).

According to Vargas & Wilson (2011), self-supervision encompasses mindfulness, awareness, attentiveness to assumptions, sensitivity, and attention to potential sources of bias, judgments, and discomfort (p. 106). By enhancing their self-awareness and supervision, nurses and health care professionals are initiating the process of displaying cultural competence in the workplace. It is essential for nurses to establish an inclusive and multicultural-friendly environment in order to cater to the unique cultural beliefs, values, practices, and lifestyle of each patient.

While nurses may have personal biases and stereotypes, it is crucial to display sensitivity towards diverse cultures. It is necessary for nurses to develop self-awareness about their responses and actions when communicating with different cultures. “Diversity self-awareness happens when we reflect on our own cultural identity, acknowledge our cultural values and beliefs, and recognize the differences within our own cultural group(s)” (Jeffreys, 2008, p. 37). When nurses exhibit cultural sensitivity, they are supporting favorable outcomes and patient safety.

It is important for nurses to consider a patient’s cultural practices when providing healthcare. This means respecting and incorporating their beliefs into the treatment plan. Additionally, nurses should empathize with and be genuine towards a patient’s feelings and beliefs—this demonstrates cultural competence. To better understand and create a culturally sensitive environment, it is recommended that nurses have knowledge of Hispanic culture and traditions.

This is accomplished by the nurse demonstrating interest in the beliefs and practices of different cultures, as well as receiving education on various cultural practices. It is crucial for the nurse to be aware of any obstacles to effectively communicating with diverse cultures when providing culturally competent care. The nurse should possess knowledge of potential cultural or communication barriers in order to concentrate on enhancing these areas. The nurse must thoroughly assess and reflect upon barriers such as stereotypes, racism, language, and differing viewpoints on the plan of care.

According to Leonard (2001), it is important for nurses to acknowledge their own cultural beliefs and biases towards different cultures. This understanding of various cultural practices can contribute to better patient health outcomes. When patients perceive that their culture is being respected, they tend to be more open in discussing their health concerns. Research has indicated that the Hispanic community encounters greater health risks as a result of inadequate healthcare and limited primary prevention initiatives.

According to Kanna et al. (2008), Hispanics have a higher prevalence of certain illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma, obesity, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and HIV. The causes of these diseases are primarily attributed to a lack of preventive education, health insurance, immunizations, and language barriers. Studies indicate that this group at risk has a lower median income in comparison to other minority groups. Furthermore, the Hispanic population encounters elevated levels of poverty and diminished educational attainment. These demographic factors substantially contribute to heightening the vulnerability of this particular population.

Segregation of cultures within a specific neighborhood, especially among immigrants, will restrict opportunities for achieving improved socioeconomic status, higher-paying jobs with health insurance, and adequate access to healthcare. The National Institute of Health has granted funding for epidemiological research aiming to examine the occurrence of disease and health conditions among Hispanic Americans. The initiatives implemented by the US Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with Healthy People 2010, are focused on educating and preventing health disparities among Hispanics (Kanna, Fersobe, Soni, & Michelen, 2008).

Reducing the rate of disease, illness, and mortality can be achieved by providing primary disease prevention and health promotion education. The “Office of Minority Health” is a federal resource within the US Department of Health and Human Services that helps limited English-proficient minorities overcome language barriers and access culturally appropriate healthcare. This resource aids healthcare professionals in educating minorities about health information, including risk factors, primary prevention, and identifying cultural language barriers (The Office of Minority Health, 2013).

Effective language and communication techniques are necessary for optimal, culturally competent health care to ensure patients comprehend prevention, illness, and care plans. Research indicates that the Hispanic population, often stigmatized as impoverished, undereducated, and lacking healthcare access, faces disparities primarily due to language barriers. Consequently, this group encounters challenges in grasping primary health prevention education, securing employment with health insurance benefits, and obtaining suitable follow-up care.

Efforts are being made to address the challenges of effective communication with patients who have limited English proficiency, as required by federal and state laws (“Cultural sensitivity and awareness,” 2011). Nurses and healthcare professionals must be flexible in caring for individuals from diverse cultures. By incorporating cultural awareness and addressing communication barriers in their nursing care plans, nurses can provide optimal care and promote positive outcomes.

It is essential to incorporate cultural competency and awareness education into the orientation of every institution and nursing school curriculum. Nurses should receive education that enables them to become self-aware of various cultures and to identify their own biases. This will facilitate the provision of culturally competent nursing care that is sensitive and respectful to individuals from diverse backgrounds.


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Self-Awareness with Vulnerable Populations: Hispanic Culture. (2016, Oct 13). Retrieved from

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