The US is a melting pot of cultures. It attracts people from all over the world who come to the country to make a better life. As a result, there is a need to create an inclusive and culturally aware society. This need is more prevalent in healthcare.
Research shows while medical science has advanced and new methods of diagnoses and treatments are available, ethnic and racial minorities can receive lower-quality care. To ensure that people from different cultures and walks of life receive equitable healthcare services, nurses need to be well-prepared. Nurses are the first line of defense in healthcare, so they must be culturally competent to provide high-quality care to patients.
Cultural competency in nursing
Nursing requires empathy and awareness. As a nurse, you need to understand, respect, and respond effectively to the cultural and linguistic needs of patients from different backgrounds.
It is best to remember that cultural competency in nursing is much more than a basic awareness of patients’ cultures. Rather, it involves developing skills, attitudes, and knowledge necessary to provide patient-centered care. This care respects as well as values the cultural differences that patients have.
It is also necessary to note that people have their own biases. As a nurse, you cannot let your biases impact the level of care you provide patients. That is why many nursing schools now incorporate cultural competency into their curricula. For instance, Holy Family University offers an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This 14-month program is 100% online, excluding clinical placements and on-campus residency. The curriculum of this program not only strengthens critical thinking skills, evidence-based nursing practice, and a global perspective of healthcare issues and policies but also helps student nurses to develop an in-depth understanding of different cultures so that they can provide high-quality care to a diverse group of patients with empathy.
Importance of cultural competency training in nursing education
You may feel that your main role as a nurse is to provide the best care possible to patients, and understanding cultures is not important if you have the right nursing skills and expertise. On the contrary, having cultural competency as a nurse will help pave the way for a successful career in nursing.
Here are some compelling reasons why cultural competency should be part of the nursing education curriculum.
Enhancing patient outcomes
As a nurse, you will be dealing with patients from a variety of cultural backgrounds. These patients will have their own cultural beliefs, practices, and values. When you understand these, you can use your knowledge and skills to customize patients’ care plans based on individual needs. As a result, this helps to improve treatment outcomes and leads to greater patient satisfaction.
Minimizing healthcare disparities
As mentioned earlier, healthcare disparities are real. There is no disputing this fact. People from weaker sections of society and ethnic and racial minorities may not receive the care they need. You can address disparities in healthcare by understanding different cultural nuances. That way, you will be more sensitive to the unique needs of each patient. That way, you will be able to bridge existing gaps in healthcare delivery and ensure there is health equity.
Enhances communication and trust
Effective communication between nurses and patients is important in nursing practice. However, when patients come from different cultures, it can create barriers, and communication between patients and nurses can suffer. This can have a profound effect on the treatment outcomes. When you have cultural competency training, it allows you to have communications that go beyond words. You learn to recognize non-verbal cues and understand cultural nuances. That allows you to adapt your communication style. It helps build trust and rapport with patients. This leads to a strong therapeutic relationship. As a result, you can expect better treatment outcomes.
Promotes patient-centered care
Every patient is unique, and their own cultural, social, and personal backgrounds influence their healthcare experiences. When you are culturally competent, you recognize and value patients’ cultural differences. You can easily incorporate them into your care plan. You learn to consider each patient’s cultural beliefs and preferences when creating a care plan and making decisions. That allows you to provide patient-centered care.
How to become culturally competent as a nurse
As you can see, being culturally competent allows you to provide high-quality care to your patients. That, in turn, ensures better patient outcomes. You need to learn cultural competency to excel as a nurse in a multicultural healthcare environment.
Here are a few ways that you can be culturally competent:
Look for education programs that integrate cultural competency into their curriculum:
When you are training to be a nurse, always opt for an educational institute that incorporates cultural competency training in its nursing curriculum. That way, you will develop a foundation of knowledge and skills in the early stages of nursing education. You can build on this using the other strategies mentioned here.
Seize experiential learning opportunities
When doing your clinical placements and participating in community engagement programs, use these opportunities to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. This exposure to different cultures will enable you to observe people and learn about cultural variations in healthcare practices. When you engage with patients directly, it enhances your cultural sensitivity. As a result, you will be better equipped to provide culturally competent care to patients.
Opt for clinical placement in a culturally diverse community
Use your clinical placement as an opportunity to be in a community with diverse populations. Working in such a community will give you a deep understanding of different cultural norms and traditions. You will also get hands-on experience with the different healthcare practices that your preceptor uses to ensure optimal care. When you graduate and begin working, you will be prepared to deliver culturally sensitive care to your patients.
You can also improve your cultural competency with ongoing self-reflection and learning. Make sure that you read about the different emerging cultural trends, best practices in providing culturally sensitive care, and healthcare disparities.
When you embrace cultural diversity in your nursing practice, it works to improve patient outcomes. Also, being successful as a nurse helps boost your confidence and lay the foundation for a thriving and more productive nursing career.