Culture is the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group (Virkus, 2009). In the field of nursing, we deal with various cultures regularly. We as health care professionals, need to be able to provide culturally competent care to the patients we care for. Self-assessment to acknowledge strengths and weaknesses within your cultural competency is key to discover and make changes to prevent cultural destructiveness.
In the cultural competency continuum, I believe that I function at a culturally competent level. In my practice, I make it my duty to research my patient’s culture before I have any type of interaction with the patient. Upon my first entry, I interview and learn more about the patient’s culture on their level. I have learned in my experience, that just because someone is of a certain race or background, does not mean they adhere to those cultural practices. For example, I have cared for patients from an Indian background that do not follow a vegetarian or lactovegetarian diet. I do not make assumptions about other cultures and their practices. Many people have migrated from one country to another, and overtime incorporate or even adopt other cultures. It is important to me to always make it my duty to learn more about a culture if I am not familiar with it. Thus being why I believe I function at a culturally competent level on the continuum.
Assuming that everyone is the same cultural wise, would be a grave mistake. Not only is the assumption false, but it also contributes to cultural blindness. Subjectively, one of the elements of cultural diversity I possess is valuing diversity. I need to accept, acknowledge, and celebrate diversity. We all bring different elements to society. For everyone to be from the same culture wouldn’t be therapeutic. It promotes ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is seeing one’s own culture as the correct way of living (Tracy Evans, Santa Ana College, n.d.). Ethnocentrism is extremely toxic and can cause cultural incapacity. Another strength I feel I possess if the ability to adapt to diversity. It is important to be able to adapt to diversity so you don’t make others feel uncomfortable. Adapting to diversity means that you are inclusive towards others that are different from you. Valuing diversity and adapting to diversity are important strengths to have to continuously promote inclusion.
One of the weaknesses I possess is cultural knowledge. There is a vast amount of cultural knowledge that I do not possess. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds follow different customs making it hard to have complete knowledge of every culture there is. I also am not in control of institutionalized changes that occur. I always make sure to advocate for others of different cultures and backgrounds, however, I cannot make changes on an institutional level. Another weakness of mine would be culture assessment. There are a lot of cultures that I just don’t understand. Some cultures I don’t even understand their methods or concepts of communication. When dealing with issues of communication, I make sure to get an interpreter to help with the language barrier. Even though a person may have weaknesses within their cultural competency, doesn’t mean they don’t posses cultural competency. An individual with weaknesses makes it their duty to strengthen those said weaknesses. That is what I set out to do with each of my weaknesses in order to be a strong well rounded nurse.
Conclusively, it is always the health care professional’s job to person a self assessment to ensure they are not culturally blind. It is our job to ensure we are providing the best cultural competent care to make everyone in your care feel welcomed and accepted. We all have strengths and weaknesses within the cultural competency continuum. As professionals, it is important we self assess frequently to ensure we are not contributing to cultural destructiveness.