Nursing is a branch of medicine dedicated to healing people. Hence, it is essential for a nurse to understand a patient’s mindset to comfort him/her. A patient’s attitude towards illness is strongly influenced by cultural beliefs. Hence, a nurse can completely empathize with a patients’ suffering only after having understood their cultural values. It is important for a nurse to be aware of cultural differences and approach the situation with an open mind. Overcoming cultural biases inherent within the nurse’s mind is a critical step in relating to the patient’s perspective.
When dealing with patients that do not speak the same language, speaking with a mild tone and empathetic expressions is usually helpful. Pronouncing their names correctly can help in winning their respect. Allowing the patients to speak freely and letting them know that someone is keenly listening makes them feel comfortable. This helps to develop a good rapport which is essential in building a strong relationship based on trust.
The nurse has to follow a 3-step cultural assessment sequence to understand the food preferences, communication methods, privacy concerns, religious sentiments, role of family members and hygiene requirements of a patient. Other minor cultural factors such patient’s specific way of reacting to pain, touch and eye contact also have to be determined by the nurse by employing this sequence of steps.
General assessment is done to comfort the client and encouraging him to open up and talk freely with the nurse. This is accomplished by sharing common cultural beliefs such as a secure family life and quest for sound health. Problem-specific assessment is performed by the nurse asking the right questions that would elicit necessary answers from the patients. This is done to understand the patient’s allergy, heredity factors and complete medical history. The obtained information is then co-related it to the patient’s cultural perspective. By doing this, the nurse is essentially trying to see the situation from the patient’s shoes.
Cultural-specific assessment is done to prepare the right treatment plan for a patient based on the information obtained from aforementioned steps. This also includes integrating a wholesome diet using the traditional food preferred by the patient. The nurse does a research on the illness faced by the patients to enlighten the patient on the subject, thereby helping them to cope up.