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Cultural competency is an extensive concept used to define a diversity of interferences that aim to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of health care services for people from racial/ethnic minorities. It developed mainly in response to the recognition that cultural and linguistic obstacles between healthcare providers and patients could affect the quality of healthcare delivery. According to the 2018 Census, approximately 22.3 percent or 72,958,337 million people in the United States are comprised of minorities (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). The minorities are mainly groups such as Hispanics or Latinos, African Americans, Asian, American Indians, and Pacific Islander. The constant variation of the demographic landscape of United States yields a prominent diverse population with respect to culture. It is recognized that culture has an influence on overall healthcare outcomes (Mosadeghrad 2014). As a result, it should be imperious that registered nurses must be culturally competent in conjunction with the cultural relativism point of view in a clinical setting, which then leads to a positive overall health care experience for the minority groups.
First and foremost, cultural competency training should be mandated in a clinical setting. There is no sufficient data on cultural competence training in a clinical setting for nursing students. Many nursing programs offer only the theoretical learning aspect of cultural competence in healthcare. A study conducted in three universities in Rome on 3rd year nursing students indicates that there is a vast discrepancy between theoretical preparation in contrast with clinical practice (Solda, & Agostino 1). The study indicates that nursing students retained more information when it comes to clinical practice. With the continuous variation in the demographic setting of the US population, several minority groups are underrepresented among health care professionals. One example, many Middle Eastern values appoint males as the ascendance figure over females. This idea, the husband speaking for the wife, might be a direct conflict towards American culture on feminism. The golden rule states that: “Treat others as you wished to be treated.” Though this approach is obsolete, health care professionals should, “Treat others as they wished to be treated.” To keep up with the changes occurring in healthcare, registered -nurses, like all health care professionals, need to advanced skills and knowledge in developing a resilient sense of cultural competency.
Furthermore, an essential factor in dealing with health care matters is the level of understanding of the circumstances among health care providers and their patients. It is essential to differentiate and identify how health care providers in the U.S. perceive disease and how patients perceive disease. Western medicine perceives illness as an irregularity of the body, whereas the patient’s perception is based on his or her cultural upbringing as affected by the surrounding. The impression set caring for afflicted patients, whom to seek for assistance, and perception and physical understanding of health and illness are influenced by culture as well (Birnbaum, 2012). For example, according to Hmong culture beliefs, when the person experiences illness, the body’s soul is separated by evil spirits, or it is frightened away. A shaman would perform the “seed ceremony in the split horn” to bring back the drifted soul. On the contrary, most western health practitioners would perceive this ritual as baseless with non-substantial evidence to support the healing of the body. With the influence of cultural background, both health care providers and nurses should develop more of these discernments to embrace differences while respecting and responding to the patient’s needs.
In conclusion, cultural competency and cultural relativism are two significant factors that influence healthcare service quality of minorities. In the United States, minorities make up 72,958,337 million people or 22.3 percent of the entire population. With the constant variation of a different culture, nursing programs and health care practitioners should implement clinical programs that focus on embracing the differences of cultural background instead of theological teachings. The research study in Rome proves the vast discrepancy between theological teachings and clinical practice. Furthermore, health care practitioners need to develop a sense of discernment to embraces differences like Hmong culture beliefs. The statement, “Treat others as you wished to be treated,” in context is obsolete, nurses and health care practitioners should, “Treat others as they wished to be treated.”
- Truong, Mandy, et al. “Interventions to Improve Cultural Competency in Healthcare: a Systematic Review of Reviews.” BMC Health Services Research, BioMed Central, 3 Mar. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946184/#B7.
- Soldà, L, and M B Agostino. “Professionalism in Nursing: Difference between Theoretical Learning and Clinical Activity.” Professioni Infermieristiche, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1997, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9653307.
- Writers, RegisteredNursing.org Staff. “Improving Cultural Competence in Nurses.” Registered Nursing.org, RegisteredNursing.org, 9 May 2019, https://www.registerednursing.org/improving-cultural-competence-nurses/.
- Alshehri, Ziyad, “Cultural Competency Among Undergraduate and Graduate Respiratory Therapy Students.” Thesis, Georgia State University, 2015. https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/rt_theses/24
- “U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/IPE120218.
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