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Cultural Competence in Healthcare

Cultural Competence in Healthcare

  • Consistency

  • Compassion

  • Creativity and innovation

Cultural Competence in Healthcare 1Cultural Competence in Healthcare 2

  • I believe all people should be responsible for their lives

  • I believe in the power of education and every person has a responsibility to get basic education

  • Religion is a personal choice

  • Every culture should embrace civilization to a certain extent

Cultural Competence in Healthcare 3Cultural Competence in Healthcare 4



Cultural Competence in Healthcare 5


Cultural Competence in Healthcare 6

  • Overly self-involved

  • Hostility to demands beyond the norm

  • Desire to help others

  • Assertive

Personal Reflection

Today nurses and other healthcare providers provide care to a very diverse patient population compared to a decade ago. The challenge for nurses is, therefore, to ensure that they provide culturally competent care to all patients (Hart & Mareno, 2014). Nurses are required to provide patient centred care and to do so they must acknowledge the patient’s cultural differences and also be ready to integrate the beliefs of the patient and their family with the treatment plan. Culturally competent healthcare is important due to its many benefits such as an increase in health seeking behaviour, greater adherence to medical advice and the avoidance of diagnostic errors and drug complications (Lehman et al., 2012). One of the standards of practice for a culturally competent health provider is to engage in critical reflection of his or her values and beliefs in order to understand how such qualities can affect the provision of quality care. Through out this paper, I examine how my cultural values, beliefs and behaviours may either make or prevent me from being a culturally safe practitioner in a multicultural healthcare environment.

One of the standards required for a culturally competent health provider is to promote social justice. This means that the health provider should ensure fair treatment to all people irrespective of their race, age, ethnicity, citizenship or sexual orientation (Transcultural Nursing Society, 2010). One of my values is compassion and one of my behaviours is the willingness to help others. These characteristics would positively contribute to making me a culturally competent health provider. The standard of social justice means that a health provider must not discriminate, but rather they must provide the best care possible to the patient despite their race or background. A person who is compassionate and with a passion for helping others can be a culturally competent practitioner in the health care environment.

Another standard required for health providers is the knowledge of cultures. A health practitioner cannot be regarded as culturally competent unless they understand the cultures of other people or their patients in order to incorporate their beliefs in the treatment plan (Transcultural Nursing Society, 2010). This means that health providers such as nurses must consider the health-seeking behaviours of certain people, families or communities. The health provider must also understand the communication styles of such groups. Although my compassion and the willingness to help others may push me to learn other people’s cultures in order to help them in the course of providing care to them, there are other personal attributes that may detract me from being a culturally competent practitioner. One of my beliefs is that every culture must embrace some level of civilisation. This means where I encounter a patient whose culture still practices ancient customs that are contrary to civilisation I may be less interested in such a culture. This may, in turn, affect my delivery of culturally competent health care. A culturally competent health practitioner is also required to be open minded because different people will have different beliefs and culture (State of Queensland, 2010). The fact that I tend to show hostility to demands that are beyond the norm may affect me as a practitioner. Some cultures will require health providers to integrate some wild beliefs into their treatment plan. This means that the health provider must be willing to do things that are beyond the norm according to their culture and beliefs. The fact that I may exhibit hostility to such demands means that there are times when I may be less willing to respect others cultures. As a result, these attributes may stand in the way of being a culturally competent health provider.

According to a report by the State of Queensland (2010), one of the best practices of cultural competency is collaboration. This means that health providers should collaborate or work together with other agencies to ensure that culturally competent health care is given to all patients. There are groups or organizations that work together with minority and indigenous communities in many societies. Health institutions should collaborate with such organizations to ensure that they can provide culturally competent health care (Standing Council on Health, 2013). These organizations understand the cultures of the communities at a deeper level than health providers. This means that a collaboration with such agencies means that health institutions will be more equipped to deal with culturally diverse patients. The requirement for collaboration also applies to health providers. Health practitioners must be ready and willing to work with other people in order to achieve the best health care outcome for the patients (Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, 2006). The fact that I embrace creativity and innovation means that I am ready to accommodate other people’s input, especially where their ideas provide better solutions than mine.

A culturally competent practitioner must embrace diversity and be open minded when offering health care to patients. For one to be culturally competent, he or she must be ready to accept and respect other people’s cultures even where there are practices that go beyond his beliefs (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2015). A health practitioner must be willing to embrace the beliefs of the patient and integrate them with the provision of care. The fact that I believe that every culture being civilised and embracing certain aspects of civilisation such as education and health may undermine my ability to be a culturally competent health practitioner. There are cultures today that have not yet embraced education and modern healthcare such as the Indigenous communities of Australia (Standing Council on Health, 2013). If I have a patient from such communities, their lack of understanding of basic health terms and their illiteracy may conflict with my beliefs leading to my inability to provide the necessary care. Health providers are also required to apply culturally competent practice by using cross cultural knowledge and skills in providing care. Such knowledge and skills must be culturally sensitive. The health practitioner must, therefore, assess the whole situation from diagnosis to treatment of the patient from the perspective of the cross cultural knowledge and skills to ensure that every procedure is culturally appropriate for the patient. One of my values is creativity and innovation. This means that I am willing to learn and adopt new techniques to enable me to provide the best care to the patients. Culturally competent practice also requires being trained or educated to ensure that one has the necessary skills even as the society becomes more diverse and cultures become dynamic. My passion for creativity is useful in adapting to new culturally appropriate practices for the sake of the patients.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2015). Cultural competency in the delivery of health services for indigenous people. Australian Government.

Standing Council on Health (2013). The characteristics of culturally competent maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Commonwealth of Australia.

State of Queensland (2010). Five cross-cultural capabilities for clinical staff. Queensland Government.

Hart, P.L. & Mareno, N. (2014). Cultural challenges and barriers through the voices of nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23, 15-16.

Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (2006). Cultural competence guidelines and protocols. Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria.

Lehman, D., Fenza, P. & Hollinger-Smith, L. (2012). Diversity and cultural competency in healthcare settings. Mather LifeWays Organization.