Cultural competency is a crucial skill in nursing since it ensures that effective, affordable, and efficient healthcare services are delivered to patients. In addition, these abilities are essential in promoting patient advocacy, as it enhances the competence to interact effectively with people from diverse cultures (Jongen et al., 2018). Cultural awareness is the knowledge of one’s cultural background, comprehension of cross-cultural dynamics, and acknowledgment of different practices and beliefs. This awareness supports better nursing practices and should be adopted to enhance social justice in health care delivery (Jongen et al., 2018). Therefore, institutions should invest in cultural awareness programs and resources, considering they have immense benefits in promoting patient-centered care.
The Benefits of Cultural Competency
Nurses should be culturally competent to build rapport, communicate effectively and collaborate with their patients to promote individualized care. Cultural awareness enhances communication by enabling the patients to share their preferences to ensure they can access appropriate resources during their stay in the facility (Handke et al., 2019). In addition, culturally knowledgeable nurses have the skills to build lasting relationships that improve the quality of care delivery. For instance, some cultures dismiss some non-verbal communication systems since they may be offensive (Henderson et al., 2018). Additionally, this awareness helps support collaboration through nurse-patient relationships to enhance health outcomes. Therefore, a nurse who understands this concept will avoid making these mistakes to ensure that the patient feels secure and collaborates in promoting individualized care.
The relevance of cultural competency is that it promotes diversity and inclusivity, which eradicates discrimination against patients. Cultural awareness helps reduce health disparities by ensuring that every individual receives individualized care that addresses their unique needs. Through such actions, patient-centered care is achieved since the patient’s decision-making rights are guaranteed (Sharifi et al., 2019). Without cultural competency, diversity in healthcare cannot be promoted since the environment will be narrowed down to fit only specific individuals whose needs are provided. Therefore, this awareness is a basic need in healthcare since it will help eradicate biased systems.
Cultural competency also helps shape group values and attitudes in a specific setting. This factor indicates that when a nurse-patient relationship is established on mutual understanding of these diverse cultural dynamics, they can agree on ways to work together to achieve a specific goal (Jongen et al., 2018). In addition, this collaboration ensures that both parties communicate about what works well and what does not helpful and unhelpful interventions. As a result, nurses and their patients create better strategies that promote fast recovery through such engagements.
Before I understood the concept of cultural competency in nursing, I strictly focused on my duties as inscribed in the job description. However, it was not before I encountered an embarrassing moment at the workplace that I decided to change. One day I screamed after my patient disappeared from the ward. Patient M was from a specific religious group that required them to pray five times a day. On the third day of her admission, I was moving up and down, filling in all the necessary details so that they could undergo a particular procedure. After some minutes, I checked on the patient, and I could not find her.
I was afraid that maybe she hurt herself and was taken to another ward. I finally checked the surveillance camera and saw that she went to the upper room set aside for patients when they needed some private time. So I went to check on her and found her praying. I was embarrassed and decided that I would make more effort to understand my patients from that day by participating in a diversity training workshop.
One barrier to cultural competency is miscommunication, which hinders the provision of culturally competent health services to diverse communities. Poor communication limits the building of a lasting relationship between the nurse and the patient, leading to medical errors (Sharifi et al., 2019). Lack of cultural knowledge is another limitation that affects cultural competency, leading to adverse health consequences. Culturally incompetent nurses may become biased by ignoring all the rules and customs important for the patient, resulting in patient dissatisfaction and disconnect between the nurse and the patient.
There are various strategies recommended that can help enhance diversity awareness. For example, mandatory cultural training is one of the steps toward enhancing cultural competence in hospitals. This nurse training will ensure they are informed of the different cultural practices and preferences to operate within their scope (Handtke et al., 2019). Nurses could also attend regular diversity conferences to get acquainted with strategies to enhance inclusivity (Henderson et al., 2018). Another strategy is creating resources that support different cultures, such as translators, support, and transport systems that suit their needs to ensure everyone feels included.
Cultural knowledge in healthcare is an integral tool that ensures that inclusivity is guaranteed, improving health outcomes. It promotes nurse-patient relations, mutual understanding, collaboration, and effective communication, which are the basis of improved health service delivery. These skills can be gained through diversity-oriented training by attending workshops and conferences. Through this exposure, nurses may gain insights into dealing with diverse communities. In addition, healthcare institutions can invest in resources that promote inclusivity, such as language translators and infrastructure that accommodates the needs of their diverse clients.
Handtke, O., Schilgen, B., & Mösko, M. (2019). Culturally competent healthcare–A scoping review of strategies implemented in healthcare organizations and a model of culturally competent healthcare provision. PloS ONE, 14(7), 0219971. Web.
Henderson, S., Horne, M., Hills, R., & Kendall, E. (2018). Cultural competence in healthcare in the community: A concept analysis. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(4), 590-603. Web.
Jongen, C., McCalman, J., Bainbridge, R., & Clifford, A. (2018). Cultural competence in health: A review of the evidence. Springer.
Sharifi, N., Adib-Hajbaghery, M., & Najafi, M. (2019). Cultural competence in nursing: A concept analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 99, 103386. Web.