Nursing and Diversity
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The issues related to nursing and diversity include challenges in nursing education and challenges in the practice of nursing in a diverse environment. America, long considered the land of cultural diversity, is now more diverse than ever. Students studying nursing come from many backgrounds, bringing unique, valuable perspectives while also demonstrating the need for a more inclusive form of education. In practice, nurses will interact with people from many racial, cultural, and ideological backgrounds. The nursing ethic of caring requires being aware of transcultural issues and always respecting diversity.
In nursing education, linguistic differences in the student body can impact the quality of communication. Yet this also presents the opportunity for practice in communicating through language barriers. This is valuable experience since students may frequently encounter such barriers when treating patients. Exposure to the expectations and values of other cultures and belief systems will also help students better account for the perspectives of all their future patients.
Nurses must respect all patients as individuals with their own values and preferences. Where cultural differences exist, misunderstandings may arise when the value-assumptions of one background differ from those of another. A nurse may not realize that something she has said or done with the intention of comforting a patient might, in that patient’s culture, seem inappropriate or even disrespectful. Even though some misunderstandings are probably inevitable, they can be reduced by greater educational emphasis on the topic of nursing and diversity.