Cultural awareness and sensitivity has become a necessary tool in nursing because; given the diversity in the growth of different populations, it has become imperative for nurses to understand various cultures and also respect the different practices in order to ensure holistic patient care at all levels of management. One among other tools that have been developed to help gather cultural information is the Heritage Assessment Tool. Through the outcomes of the survey from this tool, a nurse is able to gather relevant information about a patient’s culture, beliefs, needs and practices that may affect their care and treatment. While the tool is useful in structuring individualized patient care plans, it is also helpful in educating nurses adequately on new cultures thereby expanding their cultural competency foundation (Falkner, 2018). Some of the other tools used include; CCCC model, ACCESS model, The Process of Cultural Competence in the Delivery of Healthcare Services Model among others (Higginbottom, Richter & Mollel, 2011). Regardless of the tool being used the relevance remains in how the data would be used in the caring for patients.
Cultural competency is the act of being aware of different cultural practices that helps a nurse to adjust care plans appropriately and to constantly remain sensitive and respectful of the choices that patients make based on those practices. Cultural competency leans on cultural awareness through thorough assessment of patients and its relevance to patient care is emphasized on ensuring safety at all costs. The nurse therefore has the responsibility to understand that some cultural beliefs have health practices that are considered unsafe to other cultures that don’t share in the same beliefs. For example, the [practice of female genital mutilation seen in middle east countries, Africa and southeast Asia is a practice where the female genitalia is partially or totally removed for non-medical purposes (WHO, 2018). Because of the many risks this practice poses on women healthy, the nurse caring for such clients must remain sensitive especially in their choice of words. Furthermore, child protection issues should be taken into account and advocacy for [patient safety should be considered if a minor is to undergo this procedure. Hence, understanding a client’s cultural preferences if beneficial for effective patient care (Falkner, 2018). Even though various barriers to health exist among different cultures, nurses are to remain focused on enhancing quality patient care by ensuring safety.
Some of the ways cultural competency can be demonstrated is first, through comprehensive assessment. It is from such gained information that the nurse is able to understand family dynamics from which a customized care plan can be formulated to accommodate the needs. Secondly, while addressing emerging populations of immigrants, the nurse should be aware that most individuals lack knowledge to navigate the complex healthcare system and thus through collaboration with other interdisciplinary members, interpretive services should be provided to ensure effective management and smooth transition of care. Lastly, through cultural competency, nurses are able to identify vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, human fetuses, cognitively impaired et cetera, and by working with other interdisciplinary members, that helps to ensure provision of resources that would enhance adequate health care.
Falkner, A. (2018). In GCU’s Health Promotion: Health and Wellness Across the Continuum. Retrieved from
Higginbottom, GMA., Richter, M., & Mollel, O., (2011). Cultural awareness and sensitivity has become a necessity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3175445
World Health Organization. (2018). Female genital mutilation. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/
A nurse gathers cultural information from patients with care that is self- reflecting and an open mind. Itsimportant for the nurse to remain sensitive and respectful as the goal of the therapeutic relationship is to eliminate health disparities. “A nurse must give high quality care regardless of ethnicity, social economic background, race or culture” (ANA )
Cultural competence is an evolving process and is a daily process. Our communities are a mix of Asians, African Americans/ blacks, Hispanics, Arabs who all deserve respect and culturally sensitive care. To be Culturally competent, it “requires continuous education, self-awareness, and evaluation in order to provide holistic, culturally competent nursing care” (Campinha-Bacote, 2011).
Prior to this material review I was not aware such a framework existed for a cultural assessment. Leininger states that cultural assessment “is the systematic appraisal or examination of individuals, groups, and communities as to their cultural beliefs, values and practices to determine explicit needs and intervention practices within the context of the people being served” (Falkner, 2018). The Heritage Assessment tool is a great resource for helping the nurse determine cultural influences in managing cultural care focus in education. It surprised me that I was using it all along, mostly for my own exploration/ self-reflection. I am a very cultural curious nurse and learning about cultures helps navigate my care.
Culturally competent care has been linked to improved health outcomes and the elimination of health disparities. To demonstrate competency is to emerge yourself in it. Learn from them. Most importantly nurses must have an “acknowledgement of culture as a core nursing trait of caring” (Gillson & Cherian, 2019). I am culturallycompetent, and I ask these questions regularly:
Where you born?
Where did you grow up?
How old were you when you moved to the US?
Tell me how religion is important to you?
Tell me about the foods you eat?
How do you celebrate holidays, deaths?
American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Diversity awareness mission statement. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ThePracticeofProfessionalNursing/Improving-Your-Practice/Diversity-Awareness/Mission-Statement.html
Campinha-Bacote, Josepha. (2002). The process of cultural competence in the delivery of healthcare services: A model of care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3), 181-184. Retrieved from http:/ /ovidsp.ovid.com.ezp.twu.edu/ovidweb.cgi ?T=JS&CSC=Y&NEWS=N&PAGE=fulltext&D=yrovftf& AN=00002045-200207000-00003l
Falkner, A. (2018). Health promotion: Health & wellness across the continuum. Chapter 3. Retrieved from https://lc.gcumedia.com/nrs429vn/health-promotion-health-and-wellness-across-the-continuum/v1.1/
Gillson, S., & Cherian, N. (2019). The Importance of Teaching Cultural Diversity in Baccalaureate Nursing Education. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 26(3), 85–88.