The Many Faces of Diversity: Providing Culturally Competent Care
November 10, 2020
Response by Joseph to “Exploring Race in Nursing: Teaching Nursing Students about Racial Inequality Using the Historical Lens” by Bennett, Hamilton, & Rochani (May 31, 2019)
I am writing in response to, “Exploring Race in Nursing: Teaching Nursing Students about Racial Inequality Using the Historical Lens” (Bennett, Hamilton, & Rochani, 2019). As a BSN prepared registered nurse (RN), this article caught my attention right away. Racial and minority inequalities is an uncomfortable topic and is often avoided. However, in the current global healthcare context, awareness on racial and ethnic minority issues are critical both in healthcare delivery and in nursing practice.
Tough it is to admit, racially based systemic injustices such as mass incarceration, housing discrimination, wealth disparities, lack of equal access to quality education, and health care are still a problem in the United States (US). The salient issues arising from a diverse patient population and the racial and ethnic background of the nursing workforce are barriers. These barriers prevent nurses from fully achieving the scope of their practice. There is no doubt that understanding the basics of racial disparity in American history will enable nurses to be culturally competent and more sensitive to patients and colleagues alike.
While it is important to be aware of the racial inequalities faced by African Americans, who constitute the majority of racial minorities, it is also important to be aware of the problems faced by other minority groups. The ever-changing dynamics of the population in the US and around the world creates more racial and ethnic minority groups. When we think of cultural competence and inclusiveness, we need to consider both the diverse patient population and nursing workforce. Workplace issues include the growing emphasis on patient satisfaction and the healthcare reimbursement system. Utmost importance is placed on patient satisfaction and positive patient feedback. This feedback guides staff recognition, incentives, and career advancement, to a certain limit. I have observed that patients, who associate themselves as part of the same culture, tend to recognize and appreciate the staff more. In a unit with a diverse workforce, excellent staff members may not be recognized and or appreciated because they are seen as different. Situations like this can lead to staff members feeling left out and discriminated.
In conclusion, the authors’ efforts in this article to examine the racial environment in nursing education and come up with strategies to integrate the curriculum with learning experiences are greatly appreciated. Today’s new graduate nurses are tomorrow’s nurse leaders. Deeper understanding of the problems faced with racial and ethnic minority groups and self-awareness are vital for promoting cultural inclusiveness and effective leadership. Hopefully, future studies exploring racial influence on nursing practice will include a wide range of minority groups.
Aniyamma Joseph, RN
Bennett, C., Hamilton, E.K., & Rochani, H. (2019). Exploring Race in Nursing: Teaching Nursing Students about Racial Inequality Using the Historical Lens. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 24(2). DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol24No02PPT20