While every human being on Earth is genetically unique, so is their culture. Every culture has its traditions, values, and customs that differentiate it. So when there is cultural diversity, it gets difficult for health care professionals to maintain the quality of health care. It becomes a source of frustration and stress for both the patient and the health care provider. Hence, to avoid such situations, health care professionals should learn to identify different cultural patterns. They should also keep in mind that cultures have further subdivisions and primary ethnic groups. So when health care professionals practice cultural competency, they create a comfortable environment. It reduces the overall frustration, improves health outcomes, and increases the patient’s satisfaction.
So when a person visits a hospital, they often have to interact with a nurse. However, suppose the nurse is culturally unaware. It gets difficult for the patients to receive the good quality of health care they deserve. Hence, modern-day nurses that are culturally competent and can alleviate such situations are always in high demand.
Nurses can prepare themselves by following a cultural competence model and gaining the skills about caring for culturally diverse patients. So, nurses should pursue higher education for better skills. However, it gets difficult for them to squeeze out time for any master’s or doctorate. Fortunately, many universities offer dnp programs online, taking advantage of e-learning. So there are many ways a nurse can provide culturally sensitive yet good quality of care.
Here we are with some expert tips and tricks that can help nurses who work in a culturally diverse environment:
1. Awareness of Cultural Diversity
If there is any social issue that needs a practical solution, the first step is to be aware. So if you are a qualified nurse, it means you have the degree to provide culturally competent care to the patients. However, many health care facilities, especially in the rural areas of the world, are in dire need of nurses that can provide culturally sensitive care. So while you strive to learn how to become a culturally sensitive nurse, you can tell your colleagues about it. You can encourage your colleagues to add their part in culturally competent care. Similarly, always approach cultural awareness with an open mind and positivity rather than a critical perspective.
2. Avoid Making any Assumptions about a Culture
If a nurse is not aware of culture, it is always advisable to avoid assumptions and preconceived notions. Making assumptions may break the trust and rapport a nurse builds with the patient. It also reduces the acceptance of treatment by the patient. So if you come across a patient belonging to a unique culture, consider asking them questions. Most of the time, patients are more than happy to educate health care professionals who show a keen interest in knowing the cultural differences.
In addition to that, when you ask questions, ensure that your body language conveys openness. It would be best to show true intentions and listen to them actively.
3. Build Rapport and Trust with Patients
Building strong rapport and trust with patients is essential for nurses. Therefore, nurses would need to put extra effort into building rapport and gaining the patients’ trust, regardless of their culture. However, it can be difficult to gain their confidence, especially when there is a strong language barrier. If the language barrier can’t be helped, opt to let a converse verse nurse take over or connect with the patient’s next of kin.
It’s important to try conversing with the patient first and then the next of kin. While speaking, read up on body language cues, so you know you’re giving the right message. Now here comes the importance of body language and eye contact. Whenever you speak to the patient, make eye contact based on their behavior and talk to them confidently.
4. Learn About Different Cultures
It is the primary responsibility of nurses to know as much about their patients as possible. However, most commonly, knowing a patient is reduced to the medical history, the long list of medications they take, and the symptoms they’ve communicated. Alternatively, a holistic approach reaches considers a patient as a whole.
While it’s never a good idea to overwhelm the patient with a survey about their personal life, getting this information in steps may help connect with the patient better. When creating this survey, it’s good to ask about the patient’s family, daily life, and culture. So what you can do is think about different cultures you have encountered in your career. You can also consider cultures that are within the community. You can quickly learn about them more if you become immersed in them. Similarly, you also can visit different areas or read informative books.
5. Educate Them About Unfamiliar Medical Practices
One of the critical responsibilities of a nurse is to take the patient’s consent before any medical procedure. Procedures, treatments, and the patient’s expectations need to be communicated, so if any process is new, a nurse should explain it in detail. Nurses must inform the patient of the details of the procedure and the post-treatment care required. Some patients may require additional explanation for their home care, as they have to blend the new practices with their culture.
So whenever you communicate with a patient, ask them to repeat it in their own words. It’s good practice to repeat this process until you are sure they have comprehended the message.
A Take-Home Message
With the ongoing changes and development in cultures of the world, being culturally sensitive is no longer a choice; it has become a necessity for nurses. Hence, nurses may need to put in additional efforts to provide culturally competent health care. At first, it may seem overwhelmingly challenging, but the outcome is always fruitful.