Culturally insensitive patients - page 3

A little background: I am Chinese American. I live in a university town in the Midwest that is fairly multicultural, but that is also surrounded by farming communities that are generally 100% white... Read More

  1. by   jadelpn
    It is so interesting that in this day and age where multiple American families are (and have been) adopting Asian children for years that this would even be an issue! Some people have no filter.
    "Your English is so good" "Why thank you, not bad for being raised in the midwest!!"
    "What's China like" "Thankfully, my parents adopted me when I was a young child and I don't remember anything about it"
    or "Being born and raised in America, I don't know."
    People with no filter just want to find out something about what they perceive to be "exotic". I am sure that you are the subject of Bingo conversations "that Asian nurse is so cool" stuff by little old ladies in the general area you are. Not to worry, all you can do is laugh it off, shake your head, and go on. Lots of patients just like to personalize things more than some would like ie: "Are you married? Why not? Got kids? What are they up to......" Nervous energy and people babble....
    If there's derogatory undertones, that is a different subject....
  2. by   SNB1014
    on a slightly comical note, we had a dementia riddled little black lady who called 911 from her room because she was "being held hostage in some hospital in china!!!!"

    lol it just so happens that all nurses caring for her the past few days were FILLIPINO-american.

    it made for a few giggles in the breakroom
  3. by   SNB1014
    i will also admit that i LOVEEEE accents. i think they sound so cool. all 4 of my grandparents are immigrants and i always think its pretty impressive when someone is fluent in two languages.

    so yes, i guess im blunt enough to usually ask, but i often follow up with "it sounds so pretty", and i mean it :-)
  4. by   HouTx
    I also feel that the OP's situation reflects curiosity, not discrimination.

    I have a dear friend who is a PNP, but absolutely passionate about learning about the effect of different cultures on family dynamics. While attending a conference in LA, we went to a Japanese restaurant and I was initially mortified when my friend noticed an ancient-looking woman sitting behind the cash register and started quizzing the (also Japanese) waiter about how elderly people are treated in Japanese society.

    Well, it turned out that he was the old woman's grandson and was definitely not offended. He not only told us about his grandmother's place in the family (they review operations and receipts with her each day) but then introduced us to her! She did not speak English, but (via family interpreters) we had a lovely chat. She also wanted to know about our lives and what we did. We had a great time.
  5. by   1feistymama
    Quote from sharpeimom
    I just remind myself sometimes that the average person isn't too observant and doesn't know much that's out of his own family-based experience. Hopefully, with the use of computers making us more global, that will soon change.
    You hit the nail on the head right there!!!!!
  6. by   schooldistrictnurse
    My daughter in law is a first generation American of Hmong heritage. When people ask where she is from, she answers honestly: "Oshkosh!"
  7. by   pnjabibarbie
    at risk of being the devils advocate..... just an observation

    I have come across a few people in the short time I have spent in nj... from the name and appearance of the person... one COULD assume they or their families at some point have emigrated from another part of the world..... Yet most people ( in my experience) have no clue about their heritage other than hearsay.... what ever happened to being proud of your heritage and educating other people who may be interested in it.

    I often have felt as if I am being interrogated by patients... who were perhaps genuinely curious due to my appearance..... at times its left me pondering.. If I am insecure...if I am good enough.... perhaps even though I am born and bred from that land... truly is it mine?

    Just a thought.
  8. by   msjellybean
    I admit I didn't read past the OP. Mostly because it sounds like you work at my hospital, based on the description of it + the general locale. Hmm.
  9. by   katherine100
    'they are just curious'

    No. Not curious, just ignorant. A shame america is this closed. Grown people who are surprised that a chinese person was born in this country....
  10. by   Creamsoda
    Try being from Canada and working in the U.S... the making fun never ends. I have a sense of humor though and give it right back. Its not my patients though, its my co-workers.
  11. by   Creamsoda
    Quote from GerberaDaisy
    I have experienced a similar situation, although it wasn't a patient asking the was another nurse! I was a travel nurse working in Southern California. I am white (with quite pale skin, due to those long Canadian winters) with blonde hair and brown eyes.
    Upon learning I was from Canada she exclaimed, "but you don't LOOK Canadian !"

    Say wha-at?

    I was literally too surprised (and at the moment too busy) to ask her what did she mean.
    So I never did find out what she thought Canadians "looked like" but I have often wondered. Lol

    To the OP- that sounds very frustrating! And while I'm sure your patients are just being curious, there does
    come a point when good manners (on their part) dictates they need to stop being so
    clueless & nosy!!
    We have floppy heads, beady eyes, and square tires, how aboot that. Most of the sterotypes ive encountered originated from Southpark. But yes most people are quite "surprised" I am Canadian, once I got , " I could tell you are not from here, your too inteligent" Oh boy
  12. by   katherine100
    I was born in Canada. Not the same as what the OP has gone thru, but those silly American comments do get to you.
  13. by   CrazyCoconut
    I'm an Asian American too but if it was me, I'd make a joke out of it. Let's face it, you're going to meet a wealth of different types of patients. I haven't encountered any problems like that yet, but I did get funny looks for being young. Pt: "Wow, how old are you? You look like you're 12." Me: "Why yes, I am 12 years old. I finished up nursing school while enrolled in middle school, and now I am here to take care of you." The dear old lady laughed.

    Having a smile on your face plus some sense of humor helps.