Angela Adjetey-Appiah, MSN, MPH, MA, RN, FAACM
Director of Oncology Services Exeter Hospital
Special Author for Diversitynursing.com
Question: What can I do to be culturally sensitive to my patients?
To be culturally sensitive, you have to be culturally competent. This is “nursing knowledge and understanding of another person’s culture; adapting interventions and approaches to health care to the specific culture of the patient, family, and social group.” Or a set of behaviors, practices, attitudes, and policies that come together and enable us to work effectively with people of all cultures. (The Free Dictionary by Farlex, 2017).To demonstrate cultural sensitivity is to attain cultural knowledge and recognize the similarities and common characteristics within specific cultures and taking them into consideration when providing care and/or interacting with patients and co-workers. It also includes learning about diverse cultural groups in our community, developing a general knowledge about broad groups, and recognizing that there are individual differences within groups. Become knowledgeable of common cultural customs to help avoid misunderstandings and enable you to provide exceptional patient care.
Here are a few helpful resources:
- Cultural Sensitivity: A Pocket Guide for Healthcare Professionals (2008) — Short guide from the Joint Commission Resources store that includes easy- to-use information about the health care needs, expectations, and perceptions of different ethnicities and races. http://www.jcrinc.com/store/publications/books-and-ebooks/
- Cultural Competence Free Dictionary by Farlex (2017). Retrieved from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/cultural+competence
- Transcultural Nursing Society — Information on theories, transcultural core curriculum, certification, publications and the Journal of Transcultural Nursing (JTCN). http://www.tcns.org