Enough with culture already!! - page 2

by AppalachianRNstudent 2,234 Views | 18 Comments

I'm in my second semester of nursing school. It's a combined course of Med-Surg/OB. The first semester we went over the fundamentals. We covered a lot of cultural aspects to nursing, believe me, I understand it's importance. ... Read More


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    I personally do not think there is ever too much culture. Everyone here has basically said what I have been thinking. As far as learning more skills and the nitty gritty of Med Surg, I believe this is just as important. This is what you will deal with every day of your lives. You may never encounter a patient with a specific med surg disorder, but almost every patient you encounter will have a cultural issue.

    Last semester, I asked my clinical group to identify themselves culturally in a brief, one page paper. Three of them looked at me with a very confused look. These three were born in America (the rest were not) and 2 admitted that they never thought of themselves as culturally different (they were white, of european descent, catholic... like me). But as the semester progressed, the other students definitely saw them as culturally different, and it made me examine myself a bit more, thinking about what is the 'norm'. I must add that I grew up in the neighborhood where I teach, and over the last 30+ years, there has been quite a shift in demographics.

    In the hospital where I teach clinicals, these three students are the minority (as am I). I actually enjoy sharing my experiences with my students, and hearing the differences in my students rituals, like birth, marriage, celebrations and death. I never get tired of talking about this stuff!!!
    healthstar and Hospice Nurse LPN like this.
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    This thread is really interested to me, so here's another post. some of the other writers have brought up a very salient point--not everybody is exposed to people of other cultures.

    I grew up in a very homogeneous small town in PA. My high school had 2 Black families (they were Colored back then), 1 Jewish family (who could tell when their name was Miller), and no Hispanics, Asians, or anything else that we knew of. My family, especially my father's side, were basically rednecks, but thankfully I did not absorb their influence.

    When I went to college, my roommate was blind and Jewish, and his Mother took me in almost as her own. I met people of many, many ethnic extractions while there. When I moved here to Philadelphia in '76, I was exposed to a cosmopolitan cultural (yes! Philadelphia!!), and a city that is 40% African-American, and a good percentage Hispanic. Working in nursing, you really are exposed to numerous cultures just because of the variety in the workforce. Along the way, I picked up passable Spanish, and American Sign Language. (learned Braille in college).

    One of my favorite things to do is eat at one of our many Chinese Buffets, and any time you go there you will hear English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Creole, Greek, etc, etc. So many languages, so little time!

    I think exposure is the best cure for the cultural competency issue.
    not.done.yet, llg, healthstar, and 2 others like this.
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    Oh yeah, it is necessary. No one can provide excellent care if you are not culture Competent or sensitive. What you call excellent care might not be perceives as one by other cultures. You absolutely need to know about other cultures, in order to satisfy your patients and to provide excellent care. Going back to your example, If you look at a Muslim man eye to eye when you communicate with him, in his book you are disrespectful. Yes , I agree that all human beings want to be treated with respect, in my book respect means something else. I don't like maintaining eye contact, keep your hands to yourself, I want a male, or only a female doc, I don't want my husband in the room when I give birth, my husband is the decision maker, i don't cry when I am in pain, I don't want meds for pain, I don't go to the hospital when I am sick etc . You don't have to have a ph.d to provide excellent care, just know the main/ basic things.
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    You must be respectful and knowledgeable about other cultures and beliefs in order to be a good nurse in today's world.

    While working on my first degree, we had culture drilled into us every time we turned around. I was a bit mystified until I landed in my first classroom as a student teacher. That extensive culture education helped me to understand why all the native american students seemed so standoffish and disrespectful.

    If you aren't going to be interested in learning about the differences in the various cultures you will encounter in the workplace, you are going to have a hard time being a competent and effective nurse.
    healthstar and Hospice Nurse LPN like this.
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    FYI, you CAN look at a Muslim man's face while talking to them. Despite of all the repetitions in class, it seems like you still don't know it as you think. Not that you have to know every detail, but at least don't come up with wrong statements.
    Another FYI, I lived in a Muslim country for years, and I have talked to many Muslim men from different countries. In fact, lots of MD's in my hospital are Muslim. that's how I know.
    healthstar likes this.
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    I think it is important to learn about culture, but a lot of the stuff I hear in nursing school is sooo stereotypical and often doesn't apply to minorities who have been living in the U.S. for years. I am a minority and more often than not, the culture questions made me want to pull my hair out!!! The questions that focused on my own culture would often seem offensive and I would typically miss the questions regarding my own culture because they were just not right to me. It was annoying to have to learn what the book said about my culture, knowing that it was different in the real world. And then the questions my classmates would ask, "So I've heard that (insert racial group here) women do this certain thing in childbirth. Is that true?" I felt like my classmates were learning to see my culture through stereotypical lenses. I kept wondering when I would learn about the Anglo-American culture so I could ask questions about that...
    mslove likes this.
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    There are few places culture becomes more important than at the time of providing health care, particularly at birth and at death.

    I think this calls for some self examination on your part to be honest. Why are you pushing back against it so hard and why do you find it to be a waste of time? I know in myself when I get my wheels spinning (uselessly I might add - your curriculum can't be changed by you) there is a reason deep inside me that I am avoiding.

    I hope you learn a lot and that you have an AHA! moment where your culture studies help you make a real difference to a family. I suspect you will find it fulfilling.
    Hospice Nurse LPN likes this.
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    Quote from pitaya
    I think it is important to learn about culture, but a lot of the stuff I hear in nursing school is sooo stereotypical and often doesn't apply to minorities who have been living in the U.S. for years. I am a minority and more often than not, the culture questions made me want to pull my hair out!!! The questions that focused on my own culture would often seem offensive and I would typically miss the questions regarding my own culture because they were just not right to me. It was annoying to have to learn what the book said about my culture, knowing that it was different in the real world. And then the questions my classmates would ask, "So I've heard that (insert racial group here) women do this certain thing in childbirth. Is that true?" I felt like my classmates were learning to see my culture through stereotypical lenses. I kept wondering when I would learn about the Anglo-American culture so I could ask questions about that...
    Your point is very well-taken. Not everyone fits into the 'stereotypes' that we learn. However, as we all know, stereotypes exist for a reason; not to say that we should assume all things about all people of a particular culture. (jersey Shore is a perfect example; IMO, Vinnie is really the only true "Italian", with respect to the way his family life is, at least from what we see on tv). I have a good friend whose parents still have plastic on the furniture!! With each generation who are raised here in america, there is a chance that that the typical behaviors of a specific culture may diminish slightly. I live in an extremely diverse city, and I will ask my students if they do certain things. They will often say "I don't, but my parents still do", or "My parents are ****** that I don't". And you have to factor in the mixing of cultures with marraige. My clinical site is in a neighborhood with a lot of asian people. In peds, we had a child who was Chinese, but the family spoke english fluently (to the child and to us) and ate typical american kid food.

    The key is awareness, and not making assumptions. We can't assume they do things the way we (or you) do, and we can't assume they do things the way the textbook states that their culture does.
    Hospice Nurse LPN likes this.
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    Well I agree with you. And as someone who has lived abroad (spent much of my teen years living in Asia, and I also have a Chinese stepmother now, who just came over to America this past May, and a 7 yr old half brother who lived in China until he was 6) I can say that the way they teach "culture" in schools is still just sweeping generalizations that don't even apply to many of the cultural groups they say they do. It's like this corny American interpretation of "cultures" because Americans like to think they're being culturally sensitive and diverse. When we learn about Asian culture things half the time I roll my eyes because I know they're wrong! I'll go back and report to my stepmother what we learned about Asians today and then she'll laugh.

    Yes it is important to know some big things with certain groups, DO NOT GET ME WRONG, but I don't think you need all the (many times incorrect or too sterotypical) details; people are all different and not defined by their race, ethnicity, etc. Luckily my nursing course doesn't beat this topic to death, it was just 1 main unit in fundamentals and then little sprinklings of it throughout.


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