The number of ethnic and racial minorities is growing rapidly, while each minority has unique cultural traits. According to recent studies, more than 37% of the American population is from racial minorities. Unfortunately, the count of RNs in the workforce with an ethnic or racial minority background is only 19%. Since they all have different beliefs and choices, this difference has made it challenging to medically take care of cultural minorities.
From the emergency room till the discharge, nurses spend a lot of time with patients, for which they need to be more culturally sensitive. The actual reason cultural sensitivity has such importance in the medical field is that it impacts the patient’s medical research, which simply leads to a positive outcome and better care. The nursing profession is exceptionally virtuous, but it also demands dedication and hard work. Furthermore, being a part of the same cultural minority improves the effectiveness of treatment as patients are more open to getting treatment from nurses who share their beliefs.
Being a nurse counts as one of the most challenging professions globally. This is why your medical education should keep growing further. Continuing education is one of the simplest ways to keep growing personally and professionally. However, don’t worry if you think you can’t manage a traditional degree program with your job. Instead, opt for an online nursing degree to acquire the necessary skills without the restrictions or challenges of conventional classrooms.
What is Cultural Sensitivity?
The real meaning of cultural sensitivity is the awareness and acceptance of the values and beliefs of other groups and minorities, along with appreciating their norms and characteristics.
In the case of health care, cultural sensitivity or competence means understanding and embracing the patients who have different beliefs and providing quality care accordingly. This type of medical practice requires a system that personalizes their care based on the cultural and racial differences of the patient.
Cultural Differences and Their Boundaries
Boundaries between a patient and the nurse can significantly impact the medical treatment that will simply lead to a negative outcome. Listed below are the few differences that highly affect a patient’s care:
1. Language Difference
Since a nurse must be completely privy to the patient’s condition, it is essential to communicate. When nurses don’t speak the same language as their patients, it becomes challenging to make the patient feel comfortable and provide the best medical care. In most cases, bilingual patients often speak in their native languages when they feel scared or depressed. That is why they need to have at least one person around them who understands their language.
2. Traditional Difference
People that belong to different cultures have their own beliefs on every aspect of life. For example, when it comes to medical care, many cultures have various beliefs and ways to do things that might go against the medical norms. For example, a woman born in Beijing might not take the medicines prescribed by the doctor and take her traditional Chinese herbal acupuncture. Nurses who are aware of traditions from different cultures can assist their patients in the best way and give them a feeling of comfort, resulting in better treatments.
3. Difference of Medical Education
Understanding the pattern of healthcare from culture to culture highly affects medical knowledge. Patients from distinctive cultures may not understand different medical situations and how they need to be dealt with. People unaware of these conditions may have difficulty understanding these medical practices. This is when a nurse plays an essential role in briefing them about the particular medical situations and what treatment it requires to get a positive outcome.
X Ways You Can Provide Culturally Sensitive Care
The nursing profession is exceptionally virtuous, but it also demands dedication and hard work. Here is how you can be more culturally aware and take the best care of your patients:
1. Cultural Knowledge
To provide care to its full potential, every detail about the patient should be considered. You should be educated about the patient’s cultural values and beliefs and learn about their patient as much as possible. A good nurse should be well informed about their beliefs and traditions to interact with them better.
2. Respectable Attitude
When a nurse comes to check up momentarily, only then a patient feels cared for. The patients who have been away from their homes need a little more care and concern. Having someone aware of their culture can simply make them feel a lot more relaxed. You should avoid making assumptions about the patient’s traditions and do proper research about them instead, so they don’t feel uncomfortable interacting with you.
3. Communication Skills
A patient lying on the hospital bed helplessly sees a lot of people carelessly passing by through the door. Therefore, you should ask the patient about their day and diet and how they are feeling physically and mentally. This daily consultation practice is only possible when you can speak the language that your patient fully understands. Unfortunately, most patients only open up about every little detail of how they’re feeling in their native language.
4. Guiding the Patients about Medical Services
It is difficult for every patient and their family to decide about any medical procedure without being aware of the process. In most cases, people from different cultural backgrounds are unfamiliar with medical procedures. This is where a nurse plays a vital role in explaining the process and the outcome. You should also guide them about how to take care at home.
5. Being an Active Listener
When you interact with your patient, ask them a few questions about their condition in a polite manner but when they answer your question, take your time to really understand what they’re saying and listen to them attentively. For example, some people may have a bad habit of asking questions back-to-back without giving the patient a chance to speak up appropriately. You should make them feel completely relaxed, cared-for, and free to share how they’re feeling.
6. Overcoming the Language Differences
As a responsible nurse, one of the most challenging differences you’ll have to overcome is the difference in language. To properly communicate with your patient, you’ll need to know their language. Discuss their medical history, educate them about medical procedures, and ask them for their consent. For these important talks, language boundaries must be broken. If you’re not fluent in your patient’s language, ask your facility if a translator can help or use translation technology.
7. Building Trust and Comfort
Surround your patient with such an environment that they feel relaxed in and interact with them in a kind manner to communicate with you without any hesitation. Gaining your patient’s trust is an integral part of your duty because your patient is completely satisfied with your service and approaches you whenever they need any help. If any further assistance is required after the discharge, the patient should be comfortable enough to contact you again for the consultation.
8. Learning about Different Cultures
As a nurse, it is your responsibility to know about the patient’s background. Think about various cultures around yourself as well as the ones that you have encountered during your healthcare duties, and do proper research about them to avoid any hesitation while you treat the patient from that culture. Also, you should learn about the assumptions of particular cultures to gain proven knowledge.
9. Respect Your Patient’s Beliefs and Values
Recognizing an individual’s perceptions and beliefs simply makes you a culturally sensitive person. Therefore, you will have to go against your own beliefs to respect the patient’s choices rather than debating and explaining.
10. Valuing Their Culture
As a nurse, it is vital to accept and embrace the patient’s values and traditions. You should never judge your patients for their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and practices. Instead, you should appreciate and motivate them towards a healthy recovery.
If you’re pursuing nursing as a profession, becoming culturally sensitive is not a choice, it is necessary. Healthcare teams should put aside their personal beliefs and values to work in a way that shows appreciation or acceptance of other cultures. Being a nurse can be challenging, but to succeed at this demanding yet gratifying job, you should continue learning how to be more aware of various cultures and treat patients with culture-conscious care. The culturally sensitive healthcare team builds a patient’s trust and helps people from multiple cultures increase their medical knowledge and awareness.
Nursing is quite a complicated job but doesn’t be intimidated by the duties! Keep on instructing yourself because it brings you superb possibilities in the medical field while gaining know-how and respect. If you have the desire to help people in need, you can simply achieve what it takes to be a good nurse!