The world is a much smaller place than it was a decade or so ago as a result of globalisation. We have become exposed to different kinds of food and drink as well as cultures. Exposure however does not automatically lead to a deeper understanding of our diversity as people. As nurses, it is our duty to be more aware. We should provide care based on knowledge, communication skills and cultural competence in nursing. We cannot be indifferent to other cultures if we are to provide satisfactory patient care.
Tips on Building Cultural Competence in Nursing:
- Immerse Yourself in Other Cultures
Part of gaining cultural competence in nursing is having the ability to open ourselves up to the differences of our culture from others. This can only be done if we immerse ourselves through exchange programs, home visits, and direct patient care. In this manner you will be able to gain firsthand experience on other people’s culture as well as a better understanding on their beliefs and practices.
- Research and Enquire
Research or enquire about the things you have observed. Do not be afraid to ask your patients why things are the way they are in their religion or culture. However, be sensitive so as not to offend the people you are taking care of. This balance is a key skill towards cultural competence in nursing. Other ways to do your research besides asking is to read books and publications, undergoing training or workshops and online research.
- Learn How to Connect
For bilingual or multilingual nurses, connecting with foreign patients is easier if the nurse speaks in a familiar language. However, for those who only know English, communicating can be problematic. Knowing when to ask for the help of a colleague or an interpreter is then essential. When employing the help of a colleague or an interpreter remember to still direct your communication and engagement to the patient. Other ways in which you can communicate with a patient in spite of a language barrier is to use pictures or hand gestures.
- Consider Patient’s Health Beliefs and Values
There are a lot of things that affect a patient’s health beliefs and values. As a nurse, it is important that we are able to identify them so that we may integrate these factors into the care of a said patient. These can include economic, religious and dietary factors among others can help towards the utopia of cultural competence in nursing.
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