As nurses, we can be culturally competent in other cultures apart from our own. Such a case is possible since cultural competency is all about improving one’s ability to alter one’s assumptions, stereotypes and false beliefs and being fully aware of the other side of the story thus ruling one’s way of thinking as the only way out.
According to the Division of Social Services and the Family and Children’s Resource Program (1999, Para. 5), cultural competence entails inculcation of the ability to work in an effective way with individuals originating from varying economic, cultural, religious, ethnic and political backgrounds.
However since it difficult to appreciate other people’s traditions, beliefs, customs and values without appreciating and recognition our cultural identities, our own cultural competence should come first.
Cultural intelligence focuses on identification of in political, economic, cultural, religious and ethnic existing differences amongst people (Strader, 2004, p.9). On the other hand, cultural sensitivity entails taken positions inasmuch as the identified cultural attributes are concerned, which could either be geared towards fostering positive or negative stereotypical perceptions.
Cultural competence then comes in as an attempt to bridge and aid in fostering inculcation of the ability to work in an effective way with individuals originating from varying economic, cultural, religious, ethnic and political backgrounds.
It is important for the terms to be differentiated since they give different implications especially in the nursing practice when it comes to the control and regulation of the patient’s operational environment.
In relation to environmental control and patient teaching, nurses require open-minded skills. According to the Division of Social Services and the Family and Children’s Resource Program (1999, Para. 7), this encompasses the willingness to set aside one’s cultural affiliations by accepting other people’s perspectives and points of view in an attempt to understand them amicably.
Open-mindedness bars one from practicing uncomfortable behaviors, taking risks and even curtailing his/her defenses of unfamiliar cultural indulgencies and inclinations.
America has had well documented historical health disparities. For instance, the comparison for health indicators for whites and blacks in Chicago and Illinois were made by Silva amongst others (Orsi, Margellos-Anast, & Whitman, 2010, p.349) for the period 1980-98. In 2002, Keppel made significant contributions on the subject of health disparities.
The Silvas’ results confirmed that, although health disparities have significantly reduced, they persisted among five ethnic or racial groups of the US (Orsi, Margellos-Anast, & Whitman, 2010, p349). Despite the narrowing of white-black Hispanic health discrepancies in the national arena, Chicago situation was completely opposite in 1980-98.
The health disparities in the US can be attributed the problem that has ailed the nation throughout its history: racism and poverty discrepancies. Whites have better health compared to blacks (Orsi, Margellos-Anast, & Whitman, 2010, p353).
Despite the lack of adequate evidence, stresses attributed to racism perceptions have the capacity to inculcate poor health amongst the blacks since racism foster education discrepancies and vary social economic levels. It is thus not shocking for Chicago, being one of the segregated regions to have increasing health disparities.
To deal with the problem, various government and private sponsored programs are established. For instance, the institute of medicine has a particular focus of racial discrepancies in breast cancer.
In addition, federal initiatives are established to help create awareness of the discrepancies in health the first one being the 1985 secretary’s task force report on minority and black health discrepancies (Orsi, Margellos-Anast, & Whitman, 2010, p 349).
Others include the healthy 2010 population, which has 467 objectives, 2 chief goals and 28 areas of focus. Among the main goals is the elimination of health disparities as well as fostering a healthy population of the US.
The impediments to deal with the health disparities include poor urban areas’ response to deal with the instigators of the disparities and the approach used in the campaigns. The campaigns are conducted with the identified causes in mind: racism and poverty being the main ones, which serve to foster stereotypic perceptions.
It is however, surprising to learn that even in the modern world of equality and appreciation of human race similarity with racial criteria of human differentiation serving as only superficial identity, health disparities are still differentiated along the same lines.
Division of Social Services and the Family and Children’s Resource Program. (1999).
Culturally Competent Practice: What Is It and Why Does It Matter? Retrieved 22 July 2011 from http://www.practicenotes.org/vol4_no1/culturally_competent_practice.htm
Orsi, J.M., Margellos-Anast, H., & Whitman, S. (2010). Black-White Health Disparities
in the United States and Chicago: A 15-Year Progress Analysis. American Journal of Public Health, 100 (2), pp. 349-356.
Strader, K. (2004). Cultural the New Key Terrain: Integrating Cultural Competence into
JIPB. Retrieved 22 July 2011 from