Cultural Competence in Nursing Practice


Nurses and other professionals working in the contemporary health care industry have greater demands compared to the situation several years ago (Kelly, 2009). The main factor behind this phenomenon is the high rate of globalization. Studies have established that populations in various countries across the world are increasingly becoming more diverse due to the increased immigration of people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds (Rogers, 2008).

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Evidently, globalization has influenced numerous changes across various elements of human interaction. One such element that has been experiencing the effects of globalization is the health care industry (Starr, 2008).

Due to high rates of immigration in countries such as the United States of America, the health care delivery system has undergone numerous changes in order to accommodate the needs of everyone. Nurses, who play a crucial role of providing care to patients, have been compelled to increase their skills and acquire new competencies. The reason for doing this is to ensure that they provide quality care to all patients regardless of their cultural or ethnic background (Starr, 2008).

Cultural competence

One of the values that nurses are taught in school is respect towards the identity of their patients. In this context, identity refers to unique elements such as one’s values, background, beliefs, customs, race, and other factors that influence decisions pertaining to health care choices (Rogers, 2008). Experts argue that culture is one of the main factors that influence health care decisions across various societies in the world.

Nurses should be in a position to understand and acknowledge the best treatment options for their patients (Anderson, 2014). Cultural competency is defined as the ability of nurses to comprehend and relate well with patients from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds without compromising their commitment to providing quality care to everyone (Anderson, 2014).

Experts argue that building a culturally competent nursing workforce is one of the main challenges in the contemporary health care sector. To achieve this feat, nurses ought to be highly flexible, open minded, and have the right attitude towards their highly challenging job. Good behavior, enhanced communication skills, and understanding one’s level of sensitivity towards people from different backgrounds are very important in building such a workforce (Kelly, 2009).

Importance of cultural competency

According to experts, it is very important for nurses working in the contemporary health care industry to have the necessary skills for recognizing and appreciating cultural beliefs of their patients (Anderson, 2014). Culture often influences the perceptions that people develop in regard to treatment options. Culturally competent nursing care is important because it helps to improve the experiences of patients through quality services.

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Nurses should be aware of a patient’s cultural beliefs and customs, as well as the way they influence their health care choices (Starr, 2008). Such understanding leads to positive health care outcomes because the patient feels satisfied and appreciated through the care one receives. Developing a treatment plan that mirrors the health care choices and preferences of a patient’s often leads to positive outcomes (Kelly, 2009).

Studies have established that culturally competent nursing helps in achieving the ethical obligations of professionals working in the health care industry. Privacy of patient information is one of the main ethical values that nurses ought to observe in their practice (Rogers, 2008). Different cultures have varying definitions of privacy and the best ways of achieving it. Therefore, nurses with cultural competency skills help in promoting the privacy of patient information in a manner that does not compromise one’s cultural beliefs (Anderson, 2014).

Effects of culturally competent nursing care on patient outcomes

Studies have established that culturally competent nursing care influences patient outcomes in numerous ways. First, a culturally competent nurse helps patients in explaining cultural beliefs that lack a scientific explanation. This helps them to have better health care choices that are not blindly influenced by cultural beliefs (Starr, 2008). For example, there are certain cultures that belief some diseases are incurable and there is no need to take medication.

Culturally competent nurses can help people with such beliefs by convincing them to have a different attitude towards their health care choices (Kelly, 2009). Experts argue that for a very long time, culture has created numerous barriers to the provision of quality nursing care.

However, with the rate at which the concept of cultural competency is growing in the health care industry, patient outcomes are bound to improve tremendously. This is achievable through improved communication between nurses and their patients in order to develop a better understanding of their cultural beliefs (Anderson, 2014).


Provision of quality nursing care is crucial for the development in the health care industry across the world. Due to the effect of globalization, the need for culturally competent nursing care has been growing at a high rate. For example, the United States has numerous immigrants who come from various parts of the world.

This has increased the cultural diversity in the country, thus leading to changes in the health care delivery system. One of the changes experienced has been the increased demand for culturally competent nurses. People have different cultural beliefs and customs that influence their health care choices. Therefore, having nurses that understand this element can help in achieving positive patient outcomes.

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Anderson, L. (2014). Cultural Competence in the Nursing Practice. Web.

Kelly, P. (2009). Essentials of Nursing Leadership and Management. New Jersey: Cengage Learning.

Rogers, R. (2008). Competencies for Advanced Nursing Practice. New York: CRC Press.

Starr, S. S. (2008). Dimensions of Cultural Competence: Nurse-Client Perspectives. California: Cengage Learning.

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