We have learned that there is a clear and profound health disparity between the haves and the have nots. One of our greatest challenges is to understand this and become culturally competent. We have learned that many factors influence health promotion and the ability to seek help when needed. Nurses are the frontline force with a recognized importance to become culturally competent.
The importance of culturally competence in nursing care is vital. The definition of culturally competence is a set of behaviors, attitudes, actions that become embedded in a system. There are economic and minority factors to consider in giving care. Green and Reinckens referred to the domino effect in causes of disparities. The lack of education forces people to low paying jobs which does not provide adequate access to health insurance. Low paying jobs also lead to living in areas that are affordable but less desirable, another risk factor. We need to envision a health care system that understands and accepts the differences that everyone brings to the table. This begins with nurses. We are a country of immigrants and so this behooves the nurses to further their cultural knowledge (Green & Reinckens, 2013, p. 16).
The ANA Online Journal of Issues in Nursing recognized the challenges and offered help in giving care with the cultural element. It stated the core was to see the patient as a unique person. This article pointed out the importance of seeing nurses becoming culturally competent rather than being culturally competent. This requires continual growth. There is a mnemonic that follows LEARN in cultural assessment. Listen, Explain, Acknowledge, Recommend, Negotiate.
It points out the importance of recognizing differences but build on the similarities. Pointing out that our encounters should consist of “mindful intercultural communications”, as opposed to “mindless stereotyping” which attempts to pigeon hole people as a whole, rather than individuals. When we understand where other people are coming from, we will respond with compassion rather than judgement. We are more alike than different. Compassion leads to “deep respect” for differences which leads to “sacred encounters”, which is what all humans need. Validation and respect are the basis of good care (Campinha-Bacote, 2011).
Campinha-Bacote, J. (2011, May 31, 2011). Delivering patient-centered care in the midst of cultural conflict: the role of cultural competence. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 16.
Green, Z. D., & Reinckens, J. (2013, August 1 2013). Cultural competence in health care: what can nurses do? The Maryland Nurse News and Journal, 16. Retrieved from