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Cultural Competence Concerning Native Americans

Culture affects health care as it determines the people’s urgency to seek modern-day preventive care. In clinical practice, cultural competence is vital as it helps the practitioner develop culturally sensitive techniques essential in determining nurse-patient relationships. It builds the nurse-patient understanding, which is crucial in ensuring safe healthcare delivery to the patient. Native American communities have religious beliefs, community and family factors, and secondary determinants that affect cultural competence.

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The Cherokee community, a Native American group, believes that animal spirits bring illness. They think the sins committed by their ancestors can lead to diseases in the current generation (Carroll et al., 2018). The community also has confidence that the evil spirits can capture the living and cause infections. Some of the Cherokee society members believe healing takes place through traditional medicine. The nurse encountering such a community needs to appreciate their religious beliefs and gradually educate them on contemporary-day medicine (Sharifi et al., 2019). It helps to eliminate some myths and misconceptions that the community has about health.

The community and family can also affect the cultural competence hurdles a nurse can face. Many Native American tribes believe that illness comes from supernatural forces (Gray et al., 2021). Other tribes also believe that being a healer is a spiritual calling that not every individual may have. Such a powerful belief may make it harder for the community members to seek medical guidance from the therapists as some think that the medics do not have the sacred calling. The family members, during their conversation, may sensitize each other to avoid seeking professional medical guidance. If such patients visit the health centers, the nurses should treat them with kindness to encourage them to seek modern-day medicine (Sharifi et al., 2019). If the nurses visit such a community, they should not touch the objects the members of society believe to be sacred if not permitted.

Through technology, the nurses may experience challenges by which they can effectively interact with the Native Americans. Some of this population believes in traditional medicine, and they have not encountered most technological medical innovations (Gray et al., 2021). In a scenario where a nurse must use technological innovation to carry out a medical procedure, it is better to ask permission from the patient before performing the therapeutic process (Sharifi et al., 2019). It creates a good rapport with the patient, and thus the nurse can easily consider the cultural challenges of the patient in his decisions. If possible, the male doctors and nurses should deal with the male patients while the female practitioners should handle the female clients. Such culturally-rooted people feel safer when nursed with a practitioner of the same gender.

Health disparities secondary to cultural background play affect the Native Americans seeking healthcare. The language a patient speaks may prevent a nurse from getting vital information from the patient. Here, the hospital can seek an interpreter to make the patients feel safer about the clinical procedure. The nurse should not ridicule the patient’s language as it may significantly affect their mental health status (Purnell & Fenkl, 2019). The patient may also have language communication issues such as stammering. Laughing at such a case may discourage the person from seeking health care.

Nutrition may also affect the health care decisions that Native Americans make. It was taboo for the Navajo community to eat burned foods such as chicken and bread in the past. A society that bans its members from eating some foods may make people avoid taking some healthy meals. A nurse encountering such patients needs to appreciate the community’s cultural practices and then offer education on eating healthy meals (Sharifi et al., 2019). The teachings may make the community members change some of their unhealthy practices. Socioeconomic status may affect the physician’s integration into the culture of the community. Some Native Americans may feel economically disadvantaged and thus not can afford modern medicine. Practitioners must show respect and kindness to these people to build a solid relationship with society.


Carroll, C., Garroutte, E., Noonan, C., & Buchwald, D. (2018). Using photovoice to promote land conservation and indigenous well-being in Oklahoma. EcoHealth, 15(2), 450–461. Web.

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Gray, J. S., LaBore, K. B., & Carter, P. (2021). Protecting the sacred tree: Conceptualizing spiritual abuse against Native American elders. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 13(2), 204–211. Web.

Purnell, L. D., & Fenkl, E. A. (2019). Transcultural diversity and health care. In Handbook for Culturally Competent Care (pp. 1-6). Springer, Cham.

Sharifi, N., Adib-Hajbaghery, M., & Najafi, M. (2019). Cultural competence in nursing: A Concept Analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 99(103386), 103386. Web.

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