CRITICAL REFLECTION ESSAY 7
Theimportance of nursing as a profession cannot be gainsaid as far asthe health of any country is concerned. Indeed, nurses play animmense role in safeguarding the health of a country as theyparticularly focus on taking care of communities, families andindividuals so as to ensure that they recover, attain and maintainquality of life, as well as optimal health. They primarily come upwith plans of care and work in collaboration with therapists,physicians, the patients and their families, as well as other teammembers while concentrating on the treatment of ailments that enhancethe quality of life. While this profession may be differentiated fromothers in the healthcare sector by its scope, level of education andeven approach to the provision of care, nurses operate in societiesthat are characterized by diversity both from the patients and theirco-workers. This underlines the importance of cultural competency inthe nursing profession.
Culturalcompetency underlines a body of knowledge emanating from behavioraland scientific information pertaining to race, culture and ethnicity,describing the best techniques for meeting the needs pertaining tothe increasingly diverse population of patients, as well as how bestto effectively and efficiently advocate for them (Sagar,2012).Cultural competency allows nurses to provide holistic healthcareservices as they have the capacity to see the entire picture, therebydelivering quality care and enhancing nursing outcomes. Suchcompetency involves the comprehension of one’s own worldview, aswell that of the patient while avoiding stereotyping andmisapplication of scientific knowledge. Scholars have noted thatculture is maintained and communicated via the process ofsocialization and daily interactions, through myths, rituals,artifacts, symbols, rituals and ceremonies (Leavitt,2010).It acts as a way for maintaining internal cohesion in particulargroups and a defense against any external threats, as well as theanxieties emanating from perceived and real intrusion from otherpeople or elements from outside the culture. This means that patientsare bound to feel more comfortable with nurses with whom they share aculture. Nurses, by becoming culturally competent, promote andpreserve the privilege and trust that is intrinsic in therelationship between them and individuals receiving care, as theywould have the capacity to respect the culture, dignity, beliefs,values and ethnicity of the patients, as well as that of theircolleagues (De&Anderson, 2008).These are two of the codes of professional conduct for nurses inAustralia.
Culturalcompetency comes as the complete opposite of ethnocentrism.Ethnocentrism underlines instances where the limited perspective andexperiences of an individual allow them to regard their culture asthe primary or fundamental basis pertaining to the things that areacceptable and acceptable for all other people (Kersey-Matusiak,2013).While there may be some positive consequences for this in the nursingprofession, the negative consequences seem to be more fundamental.First, it may result in misunderstanding as it underlines theperception that the things that work with a particular group wouldalso work for another, in which case failure to work would imply thatthere is something wrong with the other group (Spector,2003).This perception is bound to result in ill-feelings, offense and harm,as well as damper any relations between these groups. On the samenote, it may result in oppression and prejudice as cultures that havecontrary opinions to one’s own would be considered backwards,inferior and wrong, with the individuals who subscribe to thesecultures being seen as insignificant, disposable, less human andinsignificant. Such tendencies would undoubtedly result in thedegradation of the patients and eliminate any possibility forpositive outcomes from nursing as there is likely to be frostyrelations between the nurses, their co-workers and even the patientsthemselves (Dayer-Berenson,2014).Scholars have underlined the notion that persistent stigmatization ofindividuals as inferior coupled with the failure to assimilate to thedominant culture may cause the oppressed individuals to internalizethe degradation of their own culture and believe that their beliefs,practices and identities are perverse and inferior (Kersey-Matusiak,2013).Such self-resentment may result in strained relations, whichcompromise the effectiveness of nursing care.
Nevertheless,nurses have immense capability for avoiding ethnocentrism especiallythrough self-reflection. This is especially in the comprehension ofthe importance of building trust and enhancing the establishment ofproper relationships between themselves and their co-workers, as wellas the patients. The main goal for nurses is the promotion of thehealth and quality of life of their patients, in which case anyattitudes that are not based in science and that inhibit theattainment of this goal have to be eliminated (Dayer-Berenson,2014).On the same note, self reflection would allow for the recognition ofthe fact that the same way an individual values his or her ownculture is the same way that others do to theirs. This would,essentially, imply that the culture of an individual is not superiorto other peoples’ rather, he or she was socialized to believe that,just as people in other cultures were (Srivastava,2007).
Ihave at one point come across episodes that challenge my culturalcompetence in my profession. I had been attending to a Muslim man whowas extremely friendly and outspoken from the onset. However, at onetime, I went to check up on him at around 1:00 pm and right in themiddle of the check-up, he placed a mat on the floor and knelt downand did what I understood as praying. This was an entirely new thingto me, in which case my initial thought was that something was wrongwith him or that he had seen someone to whom he owed some allegiance.While the disruption of the checkup was, undoubtedly, unwelcome, thepractice allowed me to have a view of Muslim beliefs and values. AllI did was step out of the room and allow him to finish his business(praying) before stepping back in. The main point of this episoderevolves around the value that Muslims place on their religionirrespective of the condition of their health. While giving thepatient some space to pray was a good thing to do, stepping out wouldhave been better as I could not join him in the prayers. This isexactly what I would do in future if it arises again.
Inconclusion, while nursing may be differentiated from others in thehealthcare sector by its scope, level of education and even approachto the provision of care, nurses operate in societies that arecharacterized by diversity both from the patients and theirco-workers. Nurses, by becoming culturally competent, promote andpreserve the privilege and trust that is intrinsic in therelationship between them and individuals receiving care, as theywould have the capacity to respect the culture, dignity, beliefs,values and ethnicity of the patients, as well as that of theircolleagues. Ethnocentrism, on the other hand, underlines instanceswhere the limited perspective and experiences of an individual allowthem to regard their culture as the primary or fundamental basispertaining to the things that are acceptable and acceptable for allother people. Nevertheless, nurses have immense capability foravoiding ethnocentrism especially through self-reflection. Selfreflection would allow for the recognition of the fact that the sameway an individual values his or her own culture is the same way thatothers do to theirs, in which case no culture would be seen as seniorto the other.
Dayer-Berenson,L. (2014). Culturalcompetencies for nurses: Impact on health and illness.Burlington, Mass: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
De,C. M., & Anderson, B. A. (2008). Caringfor the vulnerable: Perspectives in nursing theory, practice, andresearch.Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Jeffreys,M. R. (2010). Teachingcultural competence in nursing and health care: Inquiry, action, andinnovation.New York: Springer Pub Co.
Kersey-Matusiak,G. (2013). Deliveringculturally competent nursing care.New York, NY: Springer Pub. Co.
Leavitt,R. L. (2010). Culturalcompetence: A lifelong journey to cultural proficiency.Thorofare, NJ: SLACK Inc.
Sagar,P. L. (2012). Transculturalnursing theory and models: Application in nursing education,practice, and administration.New York: Springer Pub. Co.
Spector,R. E. (2003). Culturaldiversity in health & illness.Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.
Srivastava,R. (2007). Thehealthcare professional`s guide to clinical cultural competence.Toronto: Mosby Elsevier.