Cultural Competence in Health Care: Learning about Myself

Today, nursing is among the most vital professions in any society. Nurses are charged with important roles of care coordination with the primary goal of improving consumers’ healthcare quality and outcomes across diverse patient populations. However, in the 21st century, nurses are providing their services within an increasingly multicultural and global society. Too often, they face challenges on how best to provide culturally competent health care, that is, culturally specific nursing. It thus becomes necessary for nursing care to be customized so as to be consistent with the patient’s traditions, values, beliefs, and practices. The implication here is that healthcare objectives can only be accomplished if care is provided within the patient’s cultural context. There is also a need for nurse practitioners to create workplaces that embrace diversity among themselves and foster a multicultural workplace harmony while reducing conflicts. All these begin with self-cultural competence and sensitivity as well as diversity awareness. In this paper, I will describe how what I have so far learnt about myself has contributed to my ability to interact in culturally competent ways with people that are different from me.

Cultural relationships are powerful. People’s one-on-one connections with each other are the foundation for change. Establishing relationships with people from different cultures is fundamental in building diverse communities that are strong enough to achieve significant milestones in the social issues affecting them. There is a need to develop caring communication based on trust, understanding, and shared goals so as to work and interact with people from different cultural groups effectively. Whether one is an American, African American, a Vietnamese, or any other race and ethnicity, it is dire to form relationships with people whose group one may know too little about. Personally, I believe that I have gained significantly in becoming culturally sensitive and diversity aware in interacting with people seem unfamiliar to me.

A few years ago, I was culturally incompetent. I was unwilling to build relations with people from other races and ethnic groups. I was also opposed and disrespectful to different cultural perspectives. At that time, I never realized that intercultural relationship building was fundamental to cultural competency and was the basis for understanding the expectations and attitudes of others while subsequently building on the strength of each other’s knowledge. I thought that because I came from an ethnic minority group, that is Middle Eastern, rather than American, I would not succeed in interacting with others. However, over the years, I realized that becoming culturally competent was inevitable. I learnt that in every aspect of everyday life, chances were that I was interacting with people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I grasped that different people have different norms, but despite their differences, they have to get along well in a multicultural and diverse environment. I also understood that despite coming from a minority group in a majority cultural group, the contribution I would make to any social context was still significant. Starting a career in the nursing field, I agreed that being culturally competent was essential if I was to succeed in the mission of improving healthcare delivery and to succeed in connecting with patients and their families. Moreover, it became apparent that cultural competence would help in closing the achievement gaps that are a result of cultural differences between nurses and their patients.

Today, I have heightened my awareness and am culturally proficient on how to view and interact with others from a culturally and linguistically diverse approach. For example, I treat all people with respect regardless of their cultures. I no longer impose my beliefs and value systems on my peers and their family members. Different from the past when I felt ashamed to use other languages other than English, I now consider it acceptable to speak in any language one wishes. I readily accept the decisions of others to the degree to which they decide to articulate themselves in the dominant culture. As a future nurse practitioner, I will treat all my clients equally with respect regardless of their racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, socioeconomic statuses, age and generational influences, religion and spirituality, and disability.

As a culturally competent person now, I have realized that cultural competence is all about how individuals and services work more efficiently to support, embrace, and promote cultural difference. In dealing with these ideas, I intend to join my colleagues in health and social work so as to understand and respond better to cultural diversity, thereby providing better and more inclusive services to the patient population. I am now well aware of my world view and can develop positive attitudes towards cultural differences. I have developed skills for communication and interactions with people from different cultural groups. Moreover, I have gained knowledge of various cultural practices and worldviews.

In conclusion, I discussed how what I have learnt about myself has contributed to my ability to interact in culturally competent ways with people that are different from me. I revealed that in the course of time, I have learnt that the ethnic and racial background from where one descends should not be a reason as not to get along with other people different from us. In fact, I have realized that being culturally competent is necessary for building diverse communities that are powerful enough to achieve significant milestones in the social issues affecting them. Moreover, cultural competency enables different people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds to appreciate each other in supporting, embracing, and promoting cultural differences. Working in the nursing profession, it is worth noting that cultural competency is fundamental to better and more inclusive services for the patient population.

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