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Culture in the field of health care

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Culture
is a major aspect of our lives which has many different layers and underlying
meanings. Three major cultural ideas that are discussed in the first chapter of
the textbook include cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, and cultural
competence. Although all three terms are similar, they all have their own
distinct meanings. According to the textbook, cultural awareness is an
“appreciation of the external signs of diversity” (Purnell, 2013, p. 7). When a
person is culturally aware, they will be able to appreciate and understand the
differences between cultures and use that knowledge to their advantage when communicating
with people of different cultures. On the other hand, cultural sensitivity
emphasizes the emotions and attitudes that go along with certain cultures. When
a person is culturally sensitive, they will take extra precautions to avoid
saying or doing things that may be inappropriate to certain cultures. (Purnell,
2013, p. 7). Being culturally sensitive also includes respecting people of
other cultures and their beliefs. For example, if you are in a culture where it
is custom to greet people with a hug, it would be culturally sensitive to
ensure that you greet others with a hug instead of a handshake or wave.  Lastly, cultural competence is ability of
those in the field of health care to effectively treat patients of different
cultures. In order for a health care provider to be cultural competent they
must have knowledge about the patient’s culture and know what skills line up
with the needs of that culture (Purnell, 2013, p. 7). It is important for
health care providers to have cultural competence because it will benefit both
the patient and the person providing the care. If a nurse cannot effectively
communicate or care for a patient of a different culture, it can lead to
confusion or even a slower recovery process for the patient.

            As you can see, cultural awareness,
cultural sensitivity, and cultural competence all have similar definitions and
are all highly important in the health care field. A health care professional
should have all three qualities in order to be able to give the best possible
care to people of different cultures. If a person is both culturally aware and
culturally sensitive, they will be better prepared to give culturally competent
care to their patients.  It is obvious that
as a nurse, culture will have a huge role in my career and it is important that
I understand the many components of culture within our society.  

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