Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

Cultural Diversity at Work for Healthcare Professionals: Nurses’ Perspective

Workplace diversity has become an essential topic in the last few years. With globalization, the world of medicine has become more diverse than ever before. It is especially true in the healthcare industry, where nurses come from different parts of the world to provide care for patients.

Are you working in a multicultural environment and unsure how to best accommodate your patients’ needs? Are you looking for valuable tips on making everyone feel welcome and comfortable in your ward? it doesn’t matter whether you are a PACU nurse, and ICU nurse or a pre-operative nurse – whatever your role you will still need to understand sensitive cultural differences when it comes to patients you work with.

Look no further; this blog post is for nurses just like you! In today’s increasingly diverse society, it’s more important than ever that healthcare professionals learn how to navigate through different cultures.

Read on for some helpful tips on working with patients from all corners of the globe.

Demands of a Multicultural Environment:

Working in a multicultural environment requires more than a degree or certificate; it necessitates understanding and empathizing with other cultures.

Nurses who work in a multicultural setting are often required to have a sense of cultural beliefs, customs, and values to provide quality care for their patients. Nurses must also be conscious of their own biases and influence their interactions with patients from varied walks of life.

Some nurses face prejudice and discrimination from patients and their families. It is essential to be aware of these challenges and learn how to handle implicit bias in Nursing to avoid unwanted confrontations and issues.

By creating an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity, healthcare professionals genuinely meet the needs of all their patients.

Advantages of Cultural Diversity:

One of the best things about a multicultural environment is getting to know people from all over. With each new person you meet, you learn something new about their culture and way of life.

It makes your job more exciting and helps you develop a more global perspective on things.

There are numerous advantages of having a multicultural workforce:

Enhanced Creativity and Problem Solving: When different cultures come together, they can share various perspectives that lead to better ideas and solutions.

Improved Communication: When everyone in a workplace understands and respects each other’s cultural backgrounds, communication becomes smoother and more effective.

Greater Team Cohesion: A culturally diverse workforce can build stronger teams as people learn to work together towards a common goal.

Enhanced Customer Service: When healthcare professionals can understand the needs of their patients from different cultures, it leads to better customer service.

A Greater Understanding of Patients: By interacting with patients from different cultures, nurses can better understand their needs and preferences. It can lead to better care for the patients.

Challenges Faced by Nurses:

Cultural diversity is one of the most significant challenges nurses face. It can be challenging to navigate cultural sensitivities and provide quality care to patients from different cultures.

Language Barriers: Nurses may need to communicate with patients who don’t speak English in a multicultural environment. It can be difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language.

Cultural Differences: Nurses need to be aware of the cultural differences between themselves and their patients. For example, certain acceptable beliefs or practices in one culture may be offensive in another culture.

Religion and Customs: Patients from different cultures often have strong religious and cultural beliefs that influence their care.

For example, some patients may not want specific procedures done because of their religious beliefs. Nurses must be conscious of these ideas and accept them.

Cultural Beliefs Affecting Healthcare Decisions:

The following are just a few of the cultural beliefs and preferences that may influence healthcare decisions and status:

  • Hispanics, in general, consider diabetes a sentence of death.
  • Many Asian cultures are hesitant to seek assistance or follow treatment instructions because cancer is unclean in some areas.
  • Muslim women, for example, prefer to deal with Arab-American or female physicians due to modest concerns.
  • Indian people are hesitant to discuss an illness because they believe that talking about a disease will cause commotion within a community (National Business Group on Health, Center for Prevention and Health Services, 2009).

Tips for Nurses in a Multicultural Environment:

Learn About Other Cultures:

As a nurse, you must learn everything possible about your patient. The medical history, drug list, and present symptoms are frequently used as examples.

When the whole patient is taken into account – including their family, daily life, and cultural traditions – healthcare reaches its peak efficiency.

Consider different cultures you’ve encountered throughout your healthcare career and the ones in your neighborhood.

Read about the culture of that area and how it differs from yours in reputable books and online sources. Attempt to immerse yourself in other cultures by going where they are prevalent.

Overcome Language Barriers:

One of the most significant challenges nurses face when caring for patients from diverse cultures is overcoming language barriers. However, you can tackle this obstacle with creativity and resourcefulness. Try these tips:

  1. Download translation software to your phone or tablet.
  2. Visit the patient’s family home before the hospital stay to learn keywords and phrases in their native tongue.
  3. Bring a bilingual colleague or friend to help translate as needed during each shift.

Active Listening is Crucial:

To provide the best possible care for patients of diverse cultures, nurses must actively listen and understand their needs.

It involves being aware of nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, and verbal communication.

It’s also important to be respectful and humble when interacting with patients from other cultures; they are the experts on their own culture.

Respect Patients’ Customs and Traditions:

Nurses should always show respect for the customs and traditions of their patients. Sometimes, this means learning about them ahead of time.

Other times, it may mean accommodating certain important rituals or practices to the patient. For example, a Muslim patient may prefer not to shake hands with the opposite sex. A nurse should be respectful of this and not force a handshake on the patient.

There may also be times when nurses must accommodate religious beliefs. For example, if a patient is fasting for religious reasons, the nurse may need to ensure that the patient receives appropriate care.

Avoid Making Assumptions:

One of the most prominent mistakes nurses can make when working with patients from different cultures is making assumptions about their beliefs or customs. Just because a nurse thinks something doesn’t mean it’s true for every member of that culture.

Educate Patients About Medical Practices:

When nurses work with patients from other cultures, it’s essential to educate them about medical practices. For example, it is customary to give water to a person who has just fainted in some cultures. In others, touching someone’s head may be considered very disrespectful.

The Takeaway:

Nurses are intelligent and empathetic individuals, and they are well-positioned to provide care for patients from all walks of life. By being aware of the cultural differences their patients may bring, nurses can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels