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The minority nurse has an important role within the U.S. healthcare system. Nurses spend more time directly interacting with a patient than any other healthcare professional. Therefore, nurses are directly responsible for the provision of culturally competent and sensitive care.
Minority patients often feel more comfortable interacting with a nurse of the same minority background. Patient comfort is an important consideration because effective health care requires patients to be honest. If a minority nurse is able to develop a trusting bond with the patient, then the patient’s compliance with health, diet or prescription recommendations is likely to increase. The patient’s medical history is also more likely to be accurate if the minority patient feels comfortable talking to the minority nurse. Minority nurses who speak a language other than English can be particularly important in facilitating the care of patients who do not readily speak English.
In the United States, minority nurses come from many different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Nurses who self-identify as African American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian made up only a small percentage of the total number of nurses in the country. Nursing is a female-dominated professional field and male nurses are also considered a minority. Each minority nurse has the potential to act as a bridge between the healthcare industry and patients who might otherwise feel overlooked by the system.