Trans-cultural nursing addresses how nurses interact with patients on a cultural level. There are many patients whose culture and background are an important part of who they are as individuals. When they face injuries or illnesses, their cultures play a part in how they deal with the emotional struggle, and may even impact how they choose to be treated by a health care team. A patient who is a Jehovah’s Witness, for example, will not allow him or herself to receive a blood transfusion. A patient who is an Irish traveler may prefer a more holistic or homeopathic approach to treatment.
Nurses help a wide variety of patients when practicing in the health care field. Patients are likely to come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and in order to best care for patients, a nurse must be prepared to adapt to his or her patients’ cultural needs.
The best way for a nurse to work well with trans-cultural patients is for him or her to be open and attentive to the patients’ needs. He or she can ask patients if they have any needs specific to their cultures or backgrounds. By knowing what cultural needs or desires a patient has, a nurse can accommodate those needs and work them into his or her nursing care plan, when possible. If any needs cannot be met, a nurse can speak with the patient about what else can be done to make the patient feel more comfortable.
Working with patients to be supportive of trans-cultural nursing is a way for a nurse to connect with his or her patient. It helps a nurse to get to know a patient on a more personal level, and helps him or her make sure the patient gets the best care possible. After all, a nurse is treating a whole person and not just an illness or injury, and the person’s culture and background is included in that.
Nurses may also benefit from taking anthropology courses when possible. These courses will open nurses up to other cultures and give them information about culture practices and beliefs that could be helpful during day-to-day nursing practice. The more a nurse knows about other cultures, the better prepared he or she will be to help a wide range of patients.
While nursing is predominantly a health care field, there is an element of customer service to it, as well. Nurses must interact with patients and their families, and having a stronger understanding of trans-cultural nursing and how to use it on a daily basis will help nurses with the “people skills” and “bedside manner” they need to help patients work toward health.