2013 Winning Essay

2013 A Nurse I Am Scholarship winners were asked to answer the following:

A. The movie "A Nurse I Am" provides a wealth of insights and approaches to be considered by future nurses, new nurses and seasoned nurses. According to Joyce Newman-Giger, "When nurses consider race, ethnicity, culture, and cultural heritage, they become more sensitive to clients.” Considering this statement, what two nurses in the film seem to best portray or consider the importance of culture in their approach to patient care? Explain why.

B. The United States thrives as an expanding multicultural pluralistic society. As a nurse, how and why will you step forward to offer culturally competent care?

Jesus F. Beltran

Oakland University

Ardis Bush listens attentively to her patients. In each of her interactions with the patients, she expresses genuine interest in the patient as a person, allowing the patients to tell their story. The information she gives is tailored to the patient, as each patient is unique, has different values, beliefs, traditions and culture. She provides a thorough explanation in a warm, friendly and reassuring manner. She takes the time to know and understand each patient in order to provide the best health care and service possible. By engaging herself with the experiences of her patients, she develops rapport, trust and therapeutic and authentic relationships with her clients. What distinguishes Ardis from the majority of nurse managers is that she comes out or her administrative cubicle to personally meet her clients, assess and understand their needs, immerse with her clients, intervene and provide culturally competent care to her clients. Ardis Bush is truly an exceptional nurse. She demonstrates a nonjudgmental advocacy approach to caring when she followed up on a pain medication that what not given on time.

Another nurse who demonstrates sensitivity and the importance of culture to patient care is Mona Counts. She works with at least two of the numerous vulnerable populations, the rural poor and the medically underserved areas. She provides excellent quality care to every client regardless of their socio-economic background and cultural status. Before she performs her comprehensive physical assessment of her clients from a different ethnicity or culture, she tries to understand them. By understanding, knowing and being sensitive to her client’s culture, she is able to provide a culturally competent care tailored to the needs of the individual client as each client is different from one another. She provides health-promotion and disease-prevention educational strategies that her client can grasp and easily understand. One of the significant challenges that Mona faces in delivering healthcare is the vulnerability of the population she is serving. Yet, despite these barriers and susceptibilities, she is able to care for everyone with compassion, dignity and respect. She is nonjudgmental in her approach to caring for each client, which in an essential attribute of a culturally competent nurse. Her caring attitude is devoid of cultural stereotyping. She is open, authentic, sensitive and caring. Mona has unselfishly dedicated her nursing expertise to the needy, the uninsured, the rural poor and the medically underserved populations.

Rufino is a new immigrant to the United States who came from a remote, medically underserved community in the Far East. He barely speaks or understands the English language. A couple of months after arrival to this country, he was complaining of pressure-like left-sided chest pain and some sort of anxiety. He was brought to a nearest emergency center for health care. Rufino comes from a small community with an ethnic background very different from the mainstream American culture. His ethnicity contributes to the cultural diversity of the US population. He expresses and manifests pain and anxiety stoically. Rufino is one of the millions of health care clients, whose ethnicity may be different from the nurses and healthcare providers and who seek medical care in the US hospitals across the nation.

In order for a nurse to provide the highest quality care to a client of different culture, it I important that she/ he is culturally sensitive and aware of the client’s ethnic background and culture. Cultural sensitivity, knowledge and awareness are essential in providing care and are then transformed into cultural competence by practicing one’s profession and taking into consideration the different values and traditions of the client. For instance, Rufino could have an optimal healthcare experience with a combination of the traditional western medicine and his cultural practices and beliefs of the healing process, such as therapeutic listening and touch, presence o f family member to interpret and allay his anxiety, positive reassurances and some form of meditation. It is to be noted that Rufino highly values his cultural ways of the healing process. Thus, a culturally competent nurse will incorporate these cultural practices as adjuncts to the modern highly advanced western medicine. It has been theorized by Leininger (2006) that discordance between professional, western medicine and cultural care practices may lead to a culturally non-congruent care that may affect the client’s recovery, health and well being. For Rufino and any client, I will certainly provide culturally sensitive and competent care because they are the reason for the existence of our healthcare system.

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