Professional Communication: Cultural Sensitivity

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No culture is growing at a faster pace than the Hispanic population, surpassing African Americans as the largest minority population in the United States. The Hispanic population increased from 35.

3 million to 50. 5 million in 2010. The intention of this paper is to increase the awareness and understanding of cultural competency and cultural sensitivity toward the Hispanic culture. Cultural competency cannot be overemphasized as it plays an imperative role in the quality of care that is given to different cultures.A culturally insensitive encounter can lead to inappropriate care or even worse –dangerous outcomes such as misdiagnosing a patient. As DeNisco and Barker indicate, the nursing assessment, interventions, and plan of care can only be effective if the nurse takes into account cultural influences.

Remember to include appropriate resources when necessary “to enable proficient and uncompromising care” (DeNisco & Barker, 2013). All of these interventions will have an impact on how well a patient will trust in, listen to, adhere to and follow through with treatment plans promoting healthy behaviors.Nurses are front-line advocates for patients. If nurses are to assume this role, “then their efforts should be directed at making the healthcare setting as similar to the client’s natural environment as possible. To do so, they must be aware of clients’ customs, beliefs, and lifestyles” (Bastable, 2008).

Summary of Article The article focuses on the Hispanic culture and ways that health care providers can and should increase their cultural awareness, competency and sensitivity. If caregivers do not understand their own culture, miscommunication and misunderstandings readily can happen.Each person is a unique individual, influenced by his or her culture, values, and beliefs. If people start to generalize their cultural stereotypes on others, it will produce inaccurate information and assumptions, causing conflicts and miscommunication. If translators are used, they should be of the same sex if possible. To communicate trust and respect, sit close to the patient, use indirect eye contact, and formally address them.

Key cultural differences that Hispanics have from non-Hispanic people include how they perceive time.The Western culture is very time specific and always in a hurry. The Hispanic culture does not perceive time as a driving force. They live in the present and for them to be 30 minutes or an hour late is actually not considered late. Therefore, if speaking of time schedules for giving medications, nurses need to be specific and address time by a specific number – “by five o’clock” so they understand that it is important to give this medication by a specific time. Another key difference is related to how they perceive family dynamics.

The family unit, including the extended family, is considered the most important social unit and support system. Excluding them in the decision process, will only increase the distrust of the patient with the health provider. A very specific social order and respectfulness goes along with age, gender, and social class. As an example, a grandmother is shown immense respect and if possible should be included in any medical decision.

Gaining the trust of a Hispanic patient is very important. Hispanic patients need to believe they can trust their caregivers before they will discuss personal health issues.Application to Practice “Culturally sensitive health care has been described as care in which health care providers offer services in a manner that is relevant to patients’ needs and expectations” (Tucker, Marsiske, & Rice, 2011). In order for nurses to be culturally sensitive when caring for the Hispanic population, there are several key beliefs and values that a nurse should be aware of. Hispanics revert to folk medicine because of necessity, dissatisfaction with conventional medicine, and cultural beliefs.

Folk medicine is passed on from generation to generation and is considered as strong a healing practice as our modern medicine. An example is their belief that illnesses result from an imbalance of the person and environment and hot and cold. If an illness is from a hot disorder, the treatment must be cold. Our standard practice to treat a nosebleed would be to apply an icepack. In the Hispanic culture, this would be unacceptable as it would be treating a cold condition with a cold treatment.If a nurse does not know such interventions, it could lead to non-adherence with the treatment plan.

Religion and the supernatural are very important in how they perceive their health. They practice the use of magico – “religious means of dealing with life” (Askim-Lovsseth & Aldana, 2010 ). Spiritualism and the power of saints are used if faced with death, bodily ills, or cancer. These religious and spiritual influences are integrated in their daily lives, health, and illness, and should be recognized.As long as the cultural value is not harmful, it should be integrated into the plan of care.

According to Berry-Caban & Crespo (2008), language is often cited as the main obstacle to health care. We need to use sensitivity when responding to the needs and desires that culturally diverse patients request in each health care encounter. Nurses are responsible and accountable for each patient regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, and ignorance of cultural differences can lead to gross misunderstandings in verbal and non-verbal language and behaviors.Hispanics consider direct eye contact disrespectful, while gazing downward shows respect to authority figures.

Hispanics consider lavish praise uncomfortable. Instead, they will perform tasks of labor to show their appreciation. “Coleman-Miller (2000) emphasized the importance of cultural sensitivity training for health care providers to counteract the effects of cultural disregard in the form of poor interpersonal relationships, language with culture-based meanings, and ineffective services” (DeNisco & Barker, 2013). ConclusionIf a patient perceives that his or her caretakers are culturally sensitive, it leads to feelings of trust and comfort, which increases the satisfaction that they have been cared for appropriately.

Trust is also increased as well as the likelihood that they will follow through with treatment plans, medication adherence, and physician’s recommendations. Nurses can provide appropriate care by including a Hispanic’s family and spiritual culture in interventions and the plan of care. Culturally competent health care is not easy, but necessary if nurses are to care effectively and improve health status outcomes for these ethnic cultures.

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