Becoming a culturally professional healthcare officer in a multicultural society is quite challenging for many medical practitioners. Nations around the globe are eventually becoming multicultural as more and more people gain a pluralistic nationalism. In Australia, 30% of the population is made up of immigrants from other countries. This implies that the population of the country is a merge of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. As cultural diversity intensifies, there is great importance that the matter is taken into consideration. Focusing on cultural competency in the professional field of nursing, it is of great significance that the meaning and impacts of the ever continuously evolving environment of the healthcare system.
The nurse is the main caregiver to both inpatients and outpatients and therefore interacts with the patients most of their time. They, therefore, need to be at their very best when it comes to interaction with the patients. The nurses must be very competent and skilful when dealing with their patients regardless of their cultural and ethical affiliations.
Cultural competence in the relationship between the nurse and their patient begins with the acknowledgement by the nurse that their patient or patients are born, raised and dwell in different educational and social cultures. These cultural attributes give shape to assumptions, behaviour, and values that may be not true about an individual. If the values and assumptions about an individual are taken up by a nurse, they influence the way the services are delivered to the patient (Obregon & Waisbord, 2012). The nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia has recognized the necessity to provide care that is culturally competent. As a result of the recognition of these factors, in the code of ethics for nurses and midwives in Australia, it is stated the following. “The nursing profession also acknowledges the diversity of people that make p the society of Australia, there being immigrants, refugees, detainees and asylum seekers, and the duty of nurses and midwives is to offer compassionate, just, cultural competent and culturally competent care for each and every individual that is requiring or is the recipient of nursing care (NMBA).”
The community is described as a whole without taking into regard of the geographical location and any specified set of people that the individual receiving come from. The culture, ethnicity, history, age, gender and religion are not taken into consideration in the definition of a community.
Interpersonal communication skills are necessary for the nurse to go across the cultural differences between them and the health service consumer. This will enable the creation of an effective relationship between the two. The health care provider must create a coherent rapport and trust and be able to show and convey unconditional positive affection to the health service consumer. Furthermore, the healthcare provider must be in full awareness of disparities and discrimination that affect an individual patient’s group that is regarded to as a minority (Galanti, 2009).
A health care provider who is equipped with the skills of cultural competence can communicate effectively with their patients with differences in age, gender, religion, disability, sexuality, language and culture (Burton & Ariss, 2014). Culturally competent service providers can offer services that are concurrent with the needs of their patient and responds to them in the most-appropriate manner.
An ethnocentric person is one who believes in the absolute superiority of the nation and the cultural dimension they belong to. These kinds of people are often faced with the problem of feeling dislike toward others who are not members of their nation or cultural group. Ethnocentrism in healthcare amongst nurses has seen very adverse situations among the patients.
Some health care providers view illness as a result of lifestyle choice especially in the western countries; however this way of thought is not universal but is a characteristic of few individuals. Some view it as a result of sorcery, sin, fate punishment or other cases beyond the human understanding (Daly, Speedy & Jackson, 2013). Sometimes people may fail to seek medical attention because they fear the treatment they will be given by heath personnel. This is because they have a feeling of inferiority that is subjected to the superiority of the caregiver
Ethnocentric medical personnel do not take into regard the values and believes of the patient and therefore becomes a major cause of conflict. When this happens there arises a barrier to effective communication between the nurse and the medical service consumer and therefore a bad relationship (Capell, Dean & Veenstra, 2013). The patient sometimes does not even tale the prescription and medical advice issued by a nurse because they feel unwanted and neglected. This may result in even worse conditions of the patient or even death.
Ethnocentrism among medical personnel is a vice that needs to be eliminated at all cost. A simple and effective way to eliminate the vice is through the use of critical reflection. Critical personal evaluation and examination helps a nurse to develop critical thinking skills. Through this, the nurse can address their prejudice and any potential bias towards a patient. The nurse can reflect critically on the kind of actions they can explore and the possibilities of alternatives. Through critical reflection, the nurse is able put the needs of the patient first without consideration of their cultural affiliations. The nurse considers what is best for the patient by adhering to the principle of patient cantered practice. Through this, the process of seeking medical attention becomes easier and comfortable for the patient since they feel free and at home (Pract, 2011).
I once witnessed a nurse putting medicine in the food of a patient who was at times very aggressive and confused, he regularly refused to take medicine and therefore the nurse had no much option. The nurse was crushing the tablets of medicine and mixing them into the patient’s food. The elderly man was completely dependent of the medical personnel as he was very ill and weak such that he could not do anything by himself. Such old and confused patients are hard to get along with and it is barely possible to get informed consent from them. Nonetheless, the medication was very important to the patient as is reduced the chances of hypertension and other chronic diseases. I wondered if this was the right thing to do and therefore confronted the nurse about the practice. The reply from the nurse was very defensive as she argued that it was the only possible way to administer medication to the patient for his own good.
It was very good for that she made sure the patient did not miss his prescription. According to her, it was the only way that she could administer medicine, which I think is not the appropriate manner. This is because the admission of medicine requires informed consent from the patient. The dignity and autonomy of the patient is at jeopardy when the nurse considered enforcing the care without the consent of the patient.
The situation could be helped through considering if the patient is happy to take his medication when he is less confused. If he is happy, his dignity will be upheld since he has given informed consent (Price, 2010).
Burton, N., & Ariss, R. (August 01, 2014). Diversity in Midwifery Care: Working toward Social Justice. Canadian Review of Sociology/revue Canadienne De Sociologie, 5 (3), 262-287.
Capell, J., Dean, E., & Veenstra, G. (January 01, 2008). The relationship between cultural competence and ethnocentrism of health care professionals. Journal of Transcultural Nursing : Official Journal of the Transcultural Nursing Society / Transcultural Nursing Society, 19 (2), 121-5.
Daly. J., Speedy S. & Jackson, D., (Eds). (2013). Contexts of nursing: An introduction (4th ed.). Chatswood, Australia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Galanti, G. A. (2009). Culturally competent rehabilitation nursing. Fall, 30 (2), 123-6.
NMBA (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.hpca.nsw.gov.au/Nursing-and-Midwifery-Council/About-Us/Regulation-of-nurses-and-midwives-in-NSW/Nursing-and-Midwifery-Board-of-Australia/default.aspx
Obregon, R., & Waisbord, S. R. (2012). The handbook of global health communication. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Pract Nurs, Q. (2011). Reflections on ethnocentrism and racism: A challenge for advanced practice nurses. Fall, 2 (2), 70-4.
Price, B .(2010). Demonstrating respect for patient dignity. Nursing Standard, 19 (12), 45-51.