Nursing – Cultural Differences
I will continue to work with the patient because it is my professional and ethical responsibility to protect the best interests of the patients and not let my emotions influence my actions. When I chose the nursing profession, I was aware of the personal sacrifices the profession demands as also described in the Nursing Code of Ethics according to which compassion, patience, and skill are habits of character of the morally good nurse (Nursing World).
I realize that patients with cultural prejudices may be difficult to work with but securing their cooperation will be essential to enable me to do my job properly. First of all, I will try to learn about the patient’s culture as much as possible. This will help me identify the differences between mine and the patient’s culture as well as the stereotypes common in both cultures. I will also try to learn about the personal beliefs of the patients without judging him. Similarly, I will also gather information about other aspects of his life such as his food preferences and religious beliefs so that I can avoid actions that may cause the discomfort to the patient. I wll also learn the communication style of the patient so I could recognize his emotions through non-verbal cues as well (Hill and Howlett). Even when people come from the same culture, their beliefs may be widely different due to certain socio-economic characteristics such as education, income, lifestyle, and profession. All of this information will help me do a better job because I can take steps to customize my care according to the patient’s expectations.
Another strategy I may try to better manage my emotions is to respond to the patient’s offensive remarks with a humor (Hammami), in an attempt to establish a friendly working relationship. If I try to remind the patient that his remarks are offensive and create a difficult environment in the health care facility, I will make sure to do so in a calm manner so as not to come across as confronting. At the same time, I will also take the patient’s certain characteristics into account such as mental illness or depression to help myself remain patient and not take the remarks personally. I may also temporarily modify my behavior to comply with the patient’s expectations so as to show here that I am non-judgmental and actually appreciate the cultural norms dear to her. I will also enlist the help of my co-workers who may be from the same culture as the patient so that they could guide me or even assist me in interaction with the patient.
I am also a huge believer in the power of communication and believe that people open up when they are listened to. Thus, I would let the patient know he can talk to me about anything and when he would speak, I would give him my full attention to win his trust. I will also complement listening with sincere empathy. In short, the best approach to deal with patients who may hold prejudice is to take the route of anthropologists who attempt to understand other cultures without being judgmental and take real interest in learning about others.
Hammami, Mouhanad. How to handle a prejudiced patient. 3 March 2008. 16 January 2012 <http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2008/03/03/prca0303.htm>.
Hill, Signe S. and Helen Stephens Howlett. “Cultural Uniqueness, Sensitivity, and Competence.” Success in Practical/Vocational Nursing: From Student to Leader. Saunders, n.d. 527.
Nursing World. Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. 16 January 2012 <http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/Code-of-Ethics.pdf>.