HealthJanuary 29, 2016

6 strategies for increasing cultural awareness

As patient populations become more and more diverse, proiding culturaly sensitive competency education is essential for all nurses and clinicians, to better prepare them to address the underlying social environment of patients, families, and communities. A recent article in Nurse Educator, outlines six teaching strategies for their effectiveness in raising cultural awareness, a key aspect of cultural competence.

Eliminating care disparities

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (link to ) has called for formal cultural competence education. Their rationale is that persistent disparities in health, especially racial and ethnic disparities, continue to lead to poorer health and shorter lifespans for tens of millions of Americans. The AACN challenged nursing educators to develop curricula that equip students to work toward the elimination of such disparities.

Cultural awareness should be bidirectional - toward the patient and also toward oneself.

Nursing educators have used a wide variety of strategies to increase cultural competence in students, including lectures, guest speakers, group discussions, written reports, clinical experiences, simulations, role playing, journal keeping, immersion experiences (including study abroad), and educational partnerships in community settings.

Learning approaches

The six strategies recommended in the article were:

  1. Direct participation, in the form of activities designed to raise issues related to racism, classism, and privilege and to establish these concerns as a lens.
  2. Journal entries, consisting of 2 to 3 paragraphs of personal thoughts, feelings, or actions.
  3. Personal reflection, inviting the student to do an analysis of a personal critical incident.
  4. Observation of others’ experiences through videos that contain stories from individuals who have experienced health disparities, rooting what can be an abstract problem in real experiences.
  5. Interviews with patients from vulnerable populations. Students asked patients about specific experiences with health care providers and the health care system, their biggest heath challenges, and the impact of environment (social, natural, and built) on their health.
  6. Group discussion as a purposeful exploration of cultural differences, social constructs, and health disparities.

In the face of ongoing health inequality, nursing faculty members are urged to increase efforts to improve cultural awareness and sensitivity. Does your facility have a formal program in place?  Leave us a comment.

To help nurses close the growing diversity gap, Lippincott Solutions has recently been updated to include Cultural Perspectives, a new point-of-reference feature designed to help nurses and clinicians provide culturally competent care. The tool, which initially includes 15 different cultures such as Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and Mexican, is part of Lippincott Advisor and was developed in partnership with TCNS, the leading organization dedicated to advancing the cultural competence of nurses.

For more information on how Lippincott Advisor can help your institution, click HERE.

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