Abstract

Cultural competence has been identified as one of the 21st Century challenges for nursing practice across the world. The contemporary health care work place environment is characterized by a desire to improve service delivery and reaching out to as many people as possible. Globalization has had a lot of influence on the growth and development of various cultures. The rate of globalization has resulted in more interactions between people in a highly dynamic cultural environment. Flexibility plays a crucial role in helping nurses to become more culturally competent. The right attitude for achieving culturally competent nursing entails health care workers who desist from stereotyping their patients based on conventional conceptions they have regarding their culture. Cultural competence in nursing is important in achieving good patient outcomes because medical practitioners have the ability to understand individual preferences regarding medication. Creating a culturally competent health care workplace requires a reorientation of the organizational culture in line with the demands of the contemporary world.

Introduction

Since the turn of the century, the nursing practice has undergone numerous changes. There have been a number of noticeable trends that have emerged in regard to the provision of nursing care. These trends have largely been influenced by the high rate of globalization being experienced around the globe (Dana & Allen, 2008). One of the trends that have emerged in the nursing practice is cultural competency. According experts, cultural competency has been identified as one of the 21st Century challenges for nursing practice across the world. In the context of the contemporary nursing practice, cultural competency is defined as the ability of a health care worker to understand and relate appropriately with patients from different cultural settings (Dana & Allen, 2008). The contemporary work place environment for healthcare workers such as nurses is characterized by a desire to improve service delivery and reaching out to as many people as possible. This means that a culturally competent nurse is held in high esteem within the contemporary nursing profession.

Through globalization, nurses are able to provide their services to people from various parts of the globe through an ally of internet enabled media such as social networking sites and video conferencing (Findley, 2008). Cultural competency in nursing has been identified as a major challenge in nursing care provision because various cultures across the world have different comprehensions on the appropriate way of treating patients. According to experts, this new trend connects closely to an individual’s cognitive ability, mental attitude, personal skills and accomplishments that enable them to deal with patients from varied cultural backgrounds. Cultural competency in nursing practice has numerous effects on patient outcomes, as it helps to create an understanding and mutual connection between the two parties involved.

Discussion

Globalization has had a lot of influence on the growth and development of various cultures since the turn of the century. It has helped to strengthen certain aspects of various cultures and at the same time weakening others (Anderson, 2008). Studies on the effect of globalization on cultures around the world have identified various trends that have resulted from the phenomenon have changed the perception of people regarding various things. On the main areas in which people have been influenced into adopting a new dimension is on provision of health care services. Culture plays a crucial role in determining the kind of treatment administered on certain illnesses. Experts argue that people tend to develop varied preferences for the manner in which health care services ought to be administered depending on their culture (Dana & Allen, 2008). In this regard, it is important for individuals practicing in the contemporary nursing practice to have greater awareness of the cultural beliefs and practices of their patients. Health care providers have a responsibility to ensure that they have all the crucial information about the ethnic background of a patient, as it allows them to achieve better patient outcomes (Anderson, 2008).

Health care providers have a responsibility to promote the spirit of cultural competency among its workers by encouraging them to promote the values and practices of their patients in their work. The most effective way of achieving this feat is by incorporating the ethical values of nursing practice with the cultural viewpoints, beliefs, and values of people who they serve (Findley, 2008). Studies have established that the high rate of globalization has resulted in more interactions between people in a highly dynamic cultural environment. This has contributed a lot to the speedy growth of the new trend in nursing practice.

According to experts, the trend has been growing at a high speed to the extent that curriculum development in nursing schools is incorporating it in their programs (Findley, 2008). This has been considered by most people, as a right move towards improving patient outcomes in a highly dynamic, diverse, and demanding workplace for nurses. The contemporary workplace requires nurses to have a good comprehension of both their worldviews and those of their patients, as well as striking a balance between the two. Nurses are also expected to avoid treating their patients, according to conceptions they develop out of scientific knowledge (Starr, 2008).

According to experts, flexibility plays a crucial role in helping nurses to become more culturally competent. Flexibility enables nurses to respect their patients, listen to them, as well as taking time to learn their cultural believes and health history (Anderson, 2008). Studies have established that nurses, who develop a mutual understanding with their patients, tend to provide high quality services and eventually better outcomes. Flexibility also allows nurses to understand how the culture of the people they treat influence their health care practices (Starr, 2008). For example, some cultures do not allow patients to visit hospitals for treatment. In such situations, nurses should understand that people from such cultural backgrounds lack familiarity with the setting of a hospital, thus likely to have bad outcomes if treated from there. Nurses have a critical role to play in ensuring the success of culturally competent nursing practice. They ought to advance their knowledge of different cultures, have the right attitude, and improve their skills so as to achieve quality service delivery (Findley, 2008). The right attitude for achieving culturally competent nursing entails health care workers who desist from stereotyping their patients based on conventional conceptions they have regarding their culture.

According to experts, individuals working in the contemporary nursing practice should also strive to improve on their skills that are essential for quality service delivery (Starr, 2008). One of the most essential skills that culturally competent nurses ought to have is good communication. Communication plays a crucial role in ensuring improved patient experiences in the 21st Century nursing practice. It is important for nurses to ensure that they establish a way of developing good communication with their patients (Starr, 2008). One of the ways in which this feat can be achieved is through learning basic elements of the patient’s language. Experts argue that a patient will feel comfortable and satisfied with the treatment they receive when they know that their practitioner has a clear understanding of their welfare (Anderson, 2008).

Importance of cultural competence in nursing practice

Studies have established that culture often influences the perception of both health care providers and patients regarding treatment. Culture often influences choices regarding medication choices and uses across various cultures (Jeffrey, 2010). With the growing influence of globalization and development of technology, the need to have nurses who are culturally competent has been rising. The main motivation behind the speedy growth of this trend has been the desire to improve service delivery and patient outcomes. It is important for nurses to understand the ethnic background of their patients because it helps them to develop effective treatment plans (Jeffrey, 2010). Cultural competency plays a crucial role in helping nurses to understand how a people’s culture shapes their attitude, which influences their choices on important aspects such as medication. Culturally competent nursing is also important because it helps healthcare providers to fulfill their obligations (Andrews & Boyle, 2008). Experts argue that nurses act as health care advocates to their patients because their welfare depends on their ability to understand their situations and offer the most appropriate treatment plan.

The nursing practice has a well detailed ethical code of conduct that requires all medical practitioners to ensure optimal realization of the welfare of both the patient and their colleagues (Jeffrey, 2010). Nurses are also expected to ensure the privacy of their patient information by avoiding sharing it with third parties. Studies have established that culture has a role to place in regard to the classification of patient information. In some cultures, patient information is classified as private and confidential, while in others it is considered as the property of a community that everyone ought to know. In such instances, culturally competent nursing practice helps to achieve quality service delivery and the desired patient outcomes (Andrews & Boyle, 2008). Cultural competency in nursing practice is also important because it helps to protect the identity of the people treated.

Studies have established that there are certain elements of a culture that define the people’s identity and at the same time have a huge influence on their choices in regard to medication (Andrews & Boyle, 2008). For example, gender roles, age group, clan, and traditional health care practices determine the kind of treatment an individual receives on certain illnesses. In situations where a culture has a prolonged history of using traditional methods to cure illnesses, it is important for nurses to ensure they have a comprehension of those practices (Keating, 2010). In addition, they should try and establish whether those practices are compatible with the scientific methods they use, so as to ensure they achieve optimal patient outcome.

Cultural competence in nursing is also important in achieving good patient outcomes because medical practitioners have the ability to understand individual preferences regarding medication. Studies have established that culture plays a crucial role in influencing the perceptions that individuals have regarding the best approaches for providing quality health care (Andrews & Boyle, 2008). The way a patient responds to treatment is highly influenced by his or her cultural beliefs. For example, in cultures where certain illnesses are classified as curses, the likelihood of a patient having negative responses to treatment is higher (Keating, 2010). Certain cultures tend to make people believe that some illnesses cannot be cured, thus they avoid taking any form of medication. A culturally competent nurse can help to improve patient outcomes in such situations by developing an understanding of the basis upon which such concepts are developed and the best ways of improving them (Jeffrey, 2010). Barriers created through cultural practices and beliefs have for a long time compromised the ability of health care practitioners to provide quality service. The ability of a nurse to comprehend the thinking pattern of people belonging to a certain culture often plays a critical role in ensuring optimal patient outcomes. Therefore, culturally competent nurses should have the aptitude to communicate effectively with the people they serve in order to understand how culture influences their medication choices (Jeffrey, 2010).

Creating a culturally competent workplace

Organizational leaders in the 21st Century have a lot of challenges to deal with compared to their predecessors. The biggest challenge for leaders, especially in the health care sector is creating a culturally competent workforce (Kelly, 2009). The main contributing factor to this phenomenon is the delicate nature of organizational cultures, which makes them vulnerable to change. Globalization has influenced a lot of change in terms of the way organizations carry out their operations and the expectations they have for their employees. According to experts, creating a culturally competent health care workplace requires a reorientation of the organizational culture in line with the demands of the contemporary world (Marshall, 2010). Studies have established that implementing change in an organization can be very challenging, especially when it is likely to increase responsibilities on employees or have a direct impact on their positions (Kelly, 2009).

Another challenge entails the development of partialities, which prevent leaders from having objective considerations of circumstances faced by each member of their workforce. Organizational leaders should ensure that they deal effectively with this challenge because it will help building the right attitude in the nurses (Marshall, 2010). A culturally competent nurse to try to avoid isolating the ideas and feelings of others, as their identity often influences the final outcome. In the context of providing health care services, the right attitude helps nurses to take into consideration the cultural beliefs of their patients and the influences they have on their choices regarding medication (Kelly, 2009). These challenges are experienced everywhere, and health care facilities are not an exception.

Challenges experienced in a health care workplace often have a direct impact on the quality of service delivered and patient outcomes. Studies have established that if healthcare employees do not have mutual respect for each other, their service delivery is always poor (Dana & Allen, 2008). Organizational leaders should ensure that they create a culturally competent workforce, in order to promote good relations with their patients. According to recent studies, cultural competency is among the highly desirable competencies in the contemporary nursing practice. One of the ways that organizational leaders can increase cultural competency in the nursing workforce is increasing diversity by hiring employees from different cultures (Kelly, 2009). Studies have established that cultural diversity within the workplace helps to improve the overall service delivery of nurses and patient outcomes.

According to experts, there are four crucial organizational elements that organizational leaders should instill in their workforce in order to achieve cultural competency. The first element is ensuring that all employees have the aptitude to conduct a self cultural assessment (Marshall, 2010). It is important for all health care workers to have an understanding of their individuality in terms of comprehending cultures different from theirs. Such an assessment helps organizational leaders to establish the amount of work that needs to be done in order to achieve the desired level of cultural competency in their workforce. The second element involves the ability of all employees to understand the key moral forces that exist whenever two or more cultures interact (Marshall, 2010). This element is very crucial in achieving good patient outcomes, as all nurses will have the knowledge of things to expect when they interact with patients from cultures different from theirs.

Studies have established that the ability of nurses to understand the possible reaction of the people they are serving plays a critical role in promoting effective treatment plans (Kelly, 2009). In cultures where people believe in traditional medicine, the nurses will be well prepared for a lengthy and tough period of convincing the people to change to modern treatment options. Such kind of preparedness helps in achieving optimal service delivery and patient experiences. The third element involves the institutionalization of cultural knowledge for the sake of instilling the same values in individuals who will join the workforce in the future (Kelly, 2009). Experts argue that a decision to commit all employees in a health care workforce to develop the right attitude for achieving cultural competency creates the right environment for improved patient outcomes.

The fourth element involves the need for health care organizations to create a service delivery system that will allow for quick comprehension of cultural diversity by their employees whenever they are working (Kelly, 2009). Creating such a system makes it easy for nurses to increase their ability to serve patients from various cultures, because they system in use allows for easy transition from one set of patients to another. According to experts, one of the challenges that have made it hard to achieve success in creating culturally competent workplaces is the lack of a delivery system that provides nurses with tips and instructions on the best way of handling such patients (Marshall, 2010). In addition, they argue that it is important to ensure that all the four elements are incorporated effectively into the organizational structure, as a means of promoting diversity. The diversity brought about by cultural competency allows nurses to provide quality services to all patients, thus demonstrating their ability to integrate cultural awareness with their clinical skills to achieve better patient outcomes (Kelly, 2009).

Conclusion

Culture is a very important aspect of people’s lives, as it represents their identity and values. It is very powerful because it influences important decisions in people’s lives, such as their choice of medication. The contemporary nursing practice has endured a number of changes that have been highly influenced by the high rate of globalization. This has created the need to have culturally competent nurses who have the ability to offer their services to people from different cultural settings. To achieve this feat, health care organizations have to ensure that they create a culturally competent workforce with the right attitude and essential skills for dealing with highly diverse people. As the rate of globalization continues to escalate, organizational leaders have a responsibility to ensure that they instill the values of cultural competency in their workforce. Some of the challenges that organizational leaders ought to counter include the need to recognize differences in medical choices across various cultures, achieving effective communication between nurses and their patients, as well as ensuring adherence to the ethical code of conduct in nursing practice.

References

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Andrews, M.M., & Boyle, J.S. (2008). Trans-Cultural Concepts in Nursing Care. San Francisco: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Dana, R., & Allen, J. (2008). Cultural Competency Training in a Global Society. New Jersey: Cambridge University Press.

Findley, T.E. (2008). Cultural Competence of Nurses at the Hospital Bedside. New York: Pro Quest.

Jeffrey, M. R. (2010). Teaching Cultural Competency in Nursing and Healthcare: Inquiry, Action, & Innovation. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Keating, S. (2010). Curriculum Development and Evaluation in Nursing. California: Springer Publishing Company.

Kelly, P. (2009). Essentials of Nursing Leadership and Management. New Jersey: Cengage Learning.

Marshall, E. (2010). Transformational Leadership in Nursing: From Expert Clinician to Influential Leader. California: Springer Publishing Company.

Starr, S. S. (2008). Dimensions of Cultural Competence: Nurse-Client Perspectives. California: Cengage Learning.

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