By Kimberly Johnson
A large goal and focus of my trip is to evaluate cultural awareness and growth of cultural competence in the undergraduate students. So what is cultural competence and why is it so important? Cultural competence is a person’s ability to understand and accommodate the differences in others values, beliefs, and traditions. So why is my focus on the changes in cultural competence in undergraduate students? In 1-2 years these students will be responsible for the care of patients. Yes, most students will be practicing in the U.S., but our home country is titled the “melting pot” for a reason. These students will see individuals of many diverse populations on a daily basis. It is important that they are aware of cultural differences and how these differences can impact the care and overall health of individuals. As nurses, these students will be expected to provide holistic care to each one of their patients; they must cover all areas of the nursing metaparadigm (the person, environment, health, and nursing care).
Cultural competence training is difficult and complex. It would be almost impossible to prepare nursing students to provide care to all of the diverse populations they will see. One of the best ways to prepare nursing students to provide culturally competent care is through three steps.
1. They should reflect and become aware of their own personal bias.
2. They should go through cultural immersion, thus, increasing their experiences and comfort with diversity
3. They should advocate and assist patient populations in overcoming cultural barriers
These three steps are vital to the growth of cultural competence. These steps must be viewed as an ongoing process, which nurses should always view as a standard to be met. They must never forget that every patient is different and no individual will ever fit a mold.
If you are reading this, and are not a healthcare professional…
cultural competence is still applicable to you. As human beings we must always seek to see one another as valued individuals. Diversity is a gift. We can, and should learn to value differences. By following these three steps in your own life, you can grow and become more connected to the differences and needs of those surrounding you.