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?

Allison Williams

Cedarville University

Nursing is a profession with unique responsibilities and requirements. It requires much from nurses, but it always returns far beyond what was given. What does it really mean to be a nurse? Is it merely a job to keep the bills paid? Or is it a calling: a way of life and character that goes beyond establishment and cultural boundaries in order to provide care to people? To this day nursing is one of the most trusted professions, and it remains so by the dedication of nurses who choose to care for all people in culturally sensitive ways.

Nursing has expanded rapidly in the past several decades, and the scope of nursing practice has extended cross-culturally in many ways. Culture is much more specific than some would think; it is not simply a racial category, but one of region, belief, and customs as well. Nurses encounter patients from a variety of cultures, and it is vital to provide care in ways that are understandable and appreciated by the client. In the film “A Nurse I Am”, Mona Counts demonstrated culturally competent care in her primary care center in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania. Mona encountered clients in all walks of life, and her success in practice was rooted in her ability to look beyond the economic, educational, and social status of the patients and provide care in ways that the people valued and trusted. One of Mona’s clients commented, “She cares about her patients; you’re not a statistic to her.” Mona invested time to learn about the people’s values, standards, history, and personal qualities, so that she could become a more effective advocate for her clients.

Ardis Bush is another extraordinary example of a nurse who displayed culturally sensitive care. In her position as a nurse manager at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas, she had the responsibility of overseeing many nurses and patients in her unit that represent many racial and socioeconomic statuses. Ardis took responsibility for each person and lives by this motto, “Nursing is not just a job…you can’t just treat the diagnosis, you have to treat the whole person.” In every interaction with patients, she addressed them not just as another client,but as a person worth investing time and energy in. Ardis sought to understand each person’s point of view so that she could more thoroughly provide for their needs. Both Mona and Ardis sacrificed much of their lives for the sake of others. Neither viewed it as a struggle though; as Ardis stated, “This district has given to me; what can I do but give back.” These nurses valued the specific needs of their clients, in both the rural and metropolitan cultures. This cultural knowledge enabled these two nurses to provide care for the whole person in a culturally sensitive way.

The idea of multiculturalism has been prevalent throughout the nation’s history, in a variety of ways. From the first colonists to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, America has taken pride in sustaining a society where people from every culture can join together as one nation and yet retain the cultural values and qualities that define people. Nursing is truly a multicultural career, as we care for people from every race, ethnicity, and background. Maintaining culturally competent care is a necessity, as the cultural background affects how the client perceives health care. To some, such as in the Appalachian region, the measure of health is the ability to function and complete daily tasks. For others, health is a dynamic balance of forces that need to be maintained. Accordingly the measure of health and even the manner of care will differ based on the client’s cultural background. As a future nurse I am learning the absolute necessity of understanding different cultures so I can care for the patient respectfully and compassionately. It is not my job to make patients conform to American standards, but it is my job to sensitively provide the best care possible in ways that the client appreciates and understands. This sensitive cultural balance begins by simply relating with the patient. As a nurse I will have many responsibilities, but I need to take time to build relationships with patients, communicate effectively, and learn how I can best treat the person based on their personal needs and values. Nursing requires compassion, critical thinking, and communication. These qualities strengthen the trust people place in nurses, and make all proud to say, “A nurse I am.”

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