Caring for nurses in a multicultural environment

This article is all about my personal experience caring for clients from a different culture. It includes the challenges I encountered and ways how I overcome those challenges to give quality care to my clients despite of our cultural differences.


Caring for a patient must be no limitation and no boundaries. It should be given freely, compassionately under the standards of nursing care practice. But somehow, it is not being given in a way that it should because of uncontrollable factors that exist within the nurse and the patient environment that makes it hard for the nurse to reach out to her/his client. The best example for this is when the nurse from one culture handles a patient from another culture with different religion, beliefs and language. The nurse will have encounter difficulty in understanding his/her patient because of their differences.

In this article, the research study took place in Saudi Arabia. A close and conservative country where the majority of their population recognizes Islam as their one and only religion. Saudi Arabia patterned their political, family, economic, social life according to the teachings of Quran. They have certain beliefs and practices that are different from other culture. They believe that men and women should not be mixed and socialize with each other because its Haram. They also believe that eating pork or any foods cooked in a pork oil must be avoided because it destroys a person's cleanliness. Arranged marriages are being practiced by every family. They can marry their first cousins and men can marry four women all at the same time as long as they have the financial capacity to support each of them. They also believed that women should wear abaya and cover their face because to stay pure in front of their husband or future husband. They also don't practice organ donation, funeral, and baptism. Their main language is Arabic and majority of them are not good English speakers, readers, and writers.

To work in Saudi Arabia as a nurse requires a person to be strong in many different aspects of life. Aside from the fact that you are working away from your family, you will also encounter difficulties in dealing with your patients, co-workers, and patient relatives. Saudis don't trust their caregivers too easily. One way of gaining their trust is to first learn how to speak and understand their language. Foreign nurses are expected to speak and understand the basic of Arabic language in order to communicate well with their clients. It is not easy, but it is not impossible to learn it if you are dedicated to rendering quality care. Aside from learning their language, a nurse must also be knowledgeable about their common everyday practices like praying 5 times in a day, assigning same- sex caregiver to the patient and all other basic and simple practices in order to gain their trust and build a rapport.

Nurses must also be aware of their own culture and have a broad mind to accept that there will be times when a patient's demands and ways are unacceptable on your own culture. Nurses must possess limitless patience and understanding in dealing with Saudi clients because you will experience them yelling at you, writing a complaint against you and telling lies. Some patients will also ask your to do things that are not under the scope of your practice like fixing their air conditioners, faucets, switching the channel of the television and even opening or closing the lights in their room. It may sound degrading in our culture but for them, it is a part of the nurses job because it's also caring for them.

The meaning of caring differs from person to person. Its meaning depends on a person's cultural background and life experiences. A nurse must learn how to understand and adjust with their patient at all times because it is our duty and responsibility to be the patient's helping hand and advocate regardless of their race, age, and status in life.

We also sometimes need to disregard our own belief and pride because it could affect our nursing decision and judgment towards understanding our patient. If we learn the right approach and strategies we will be able to give the best quality nursing care and save lives.

How very little can be done under the spirit of fear. – Florence Nightingale

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3 Articles; 289 Posts

Specializes in Psych.

For an article about diversity, you are making flat out generalizations. "The majority of the them are not good English speakers...." "They" don't believe this..." "Arranged marriages are practiced by every family." So not true. Saudis are individuals, and have varying beliefs and practices. It is the gov't who makes the laws mandating certain practices, but that does not mean every Saudi believes them. I've seen Saudis cross the bridge to Bahrain so they can drink alcohol. Some speak excellent English. I've even seen some who don't give a rip about pork and pig products. The distinction needs to be made between what is law and the individual. Do not make assumptions that everyone believes or practices the strict tenets of the government.

Saudis are diverse and individual as anyone. You are doing a disservice to paint the people with such broad strokes.

Nurse Lalaine, BSN, RN

1 Article; 84 Posts

Specializes in Intensive Care Unit (Trauma & Cardiac).

Have you ever been to Saudi Arabia before? and have you worked there as a nurse?