Are You a Culturally Competent Nurse? Blog | Are You a Culturally Competent Nurse?
Healthcare 01/15/21

Are You a Culturally Competent Nurse?

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman…”

This quote is taken from a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966 that urged legal action against hospitals that were out of compliance with the Civil Rights Act. He said, “We put the blame right on [the American Medical Association’s] doorstep.”

As of the writing of this article in 2021, it has been only 55 years since this speech. Reform didn’t happen overnight. Even with protective laws and policies now in place, many people outside of minority groups are unaware that discrimination is still rampant based on country of origin, skin color, gender expression, sexual preference, mental status, method of communication, personality, and much more.

But nurses have a unique opportunity to improve equity in healthcare. When they do, equity in society will progress as a result.

This practice is called “cultural competence.”

What Is Cultural Competence?

Terry Cross and others published the 1989 article “Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care,” funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and available courtesy of Seattle Pacific University. The article provides crucial definitions of several terms:

1.    Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals and enable that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.”

In this definition, nurses fall under the definition of professionals working effectively cross-culturally.

2.    Culture

“The word ‘culture’ is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious, or social group.”

This definition was given decades ago. Since then, more types of identifiable groups have emerged and cultures we encounter daily have continued to diversify, which means nurses must constantly learn to navigate new cultures.

3.    Competence

“The word ‘competence’ is used because it implies having the capacity to function effectively.”

Note that a competent person has the ability to function effectively; they may or may not choose to use this ability. This is why nurses should be aware of their own biases, a topic to be discussed later in this article.

Why Practice Cultural Competence?

Obey Laws and Policies

For a list of some federal and state requirements for cultural competence, see “A Guide to Incorporating Cultural Competency into Health Professionals’ Education and Training.” (Beamon et al. pp. 4-10).

In order to follow these federal and state guidelines, healthcare organizations develop their own internal policies and training programs.

This same article nods to the American Nurses Association (ANA), who in 1991 made a statement about cultural diversity. In its summary of the statement, the article states:

“Nurses are encouraged to do a cultural evaluation of each patient because interactions will occur between the nurse, the patient, and the environment. As patient advocates, nurses need to understand how each cultural group understands life processes, defines health and illness, maintains wellness, identifies causes of illness, and accepts the role of healers.” (p.13).

Protect Yourself from Lawsuits

18-year-old Willie Ramirez was at a friend’s house when he felt a stabbing, needle-like pain in his head. He made it to his car and drove to his girlfriend’s house where he managed to park before losing consciousness.

When he awoke from a coma two days later, he learned doctors had interpreted his girlfriend’s limited English to mean he had overdosed on drugs. They had treated him for drug abuse, and only two days later performed a neurological exam.

It was found that Willie had experienced a left intracerebellar hematoma with brain-stem compression and an acute subdural hematoma. Even after emergency surgery, Willie was irreversibly quadriplegic. The hospital settled for approximately $71 million.

Stories like these highlight not only the importance of cultural competence, but also the need for RNs and NPs to invest in nurse insurance and nurse practitioner insurance in order to protect their personal assets in the unfortunate event of a work-related lawsuit.

Follow the Nursing Code

As a nurse, you signed up to follow the Code of Ethics for Nurses. The second sentence of the document says this:

“The need for and right to health care is universal, transcending all individual differences.” (1.1).

And then:

“Optimal nursing care enables the patient to live with as much physical, emotional, social, and religious or spiritual well-being as possible and reflects the patient’s own values.” (1.3).

But aside from any code, you became a nurse because you wanted to care for people. Your conscience requires you to do this to the best of your ability, especially when cultural barriers involve extra effort.

How to Become Culturally Competent

Learn About Yourself

Become aware of your own prejudices. We all have opinions about other lifestyles, and that’s normal to some extent—but regardless of their feelings, nurses must learn how to provide the best care for each culture.

We are often unaware of our own biases. Learn what they are by taking this test by Project Implicit developed by psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia, and the University of Washington.

Pursue Training

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Office of Minority Health offers a free e-learning program for nurses for up to nine continuing education credits. From the main page: “This e-learning program is designed to help you deliver culturally and linguistically competent care.”

Zuwang Shen wrote a literature review about cultural competence models used in nursing between 1982 and 2014. This is a good tool for the nurse wishing to learn the history and theory behind cultural care methods that have shaped nursing today.

The “Purnell” approach refers to Larry Purnell’s book Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach (2013). His book is widely used by medical professionals to provide individualized healthcare for 33 minority groups.

Ask the Patient

The adage “Treat others how you want to be treated” does not apply to cultural competence.

For example, a nurse may feel that distracting and chatting with a patient are the best measures of pain relief based on their own personal experiences. But the nurse’s patient may come from a culture where it is noble to bear pain silently.

It would be better to say simply, “Treat others how they want to be treated.”

And the best way to find out how they want to be treated is to ask them. For example, “I can chat while I do this. Would that help distract you?”

While asking may feel awkward—and the nurse may worry about causing offense—people often appreciate others taking care to ask their preference instead of making assumptions.

Stay Protected

As a nurse, you work within the bounds of your profession, your organization, and the law—but you also know that mistakes can happen, or patients can perceive that mistakes have happened, possibly due to a lack of cultural competence.

Invest in nurse insurance to protect yourself in case of lawsuits that might happen in your career—whether on the clock, when you’re navigating cultural competency—or off the clock, when you’re being a good Samaritan.

The best insurance policy will:

  1. Specialize in RN insurance and NP insurance
  2. Protect your personal finances if a lawsuit is filed against you
  3. Pay claims on your behalf
  4. Help you find legal representation if needed
  5. Base premiums on your type of work or specialty, increasing affordability
  6. Be experienced in managing Medical Professional Liability Policies

Get a quick personalized quote today from our application. With your specialized nurse or nurse practitioner’s insurance secured, you can focus on caring for patients without worrying about liability.

Blog

Tips for protecting yourself and your business.

Healthcare

8 Malpractice Insurance Terms Every Medical Professional Should Know

Healthcare

Social Worker Insurance: Do I Need My Own Coverage?

Mental Health

Pandemic Pressures Drive Increased Need for Mental Health Technicians

Nurse

Celebrate National Student Nurse Day on May 8

Healthcare

National Nurses Week: Celebrate May 6-12

Healthcare

Why Nursing Students Need their Own Professional Liability Policy

Healthcare

How to Find Affordable Professional Liability Insurance for Home Health Providers

Healthcare

5 Benefits to a Career as a Pharmacy Technician

Healthcare

How Digital Pharmacies Will Change the Industry

Healthcare

How to Become A Pharmacy Technician

Healthcare

Supporting Providers in the Age of Telehealth

Healthcare

12 Keys to Finding the Best Physical Therapist Insurance

Healthcare

When Are Lab Technicians Liable? Five Reasons to Carry Professional Liability Insurance

Healthcare

What Is and Isn’t Covered by Malpractice Insurance?

Healthcare

Why COVID Testing Labs Should Carry General Liability Insurance

Healthcare

Do Occupational Therapists Need Malpractice Insurance?

Healthcare

Can Lab Technicians Be Sued for Malpractice?

Cyber

5 Reasons Cyber Security Insurance Is Becoming More Important Than Ever

Cyber

What Sort of Insurance Will Cover Physical Therapists?

Cyber

Helping Hesitant Patients Embrace Telehealth

Cyber

Why COVID Testing Labs Should Have Cyber Security Insurance in Case of a Data Breach

Healthcare

GI Nurses and Associates Week: Highlight A GI Nurse Hero March 21-27

Healthcare

What Malpractice Risks Do GI Nurses Face?

Healthcare

What Kind of Nurse Should You Be? Check Out the Growing Field of Gastroenterology

Healthcare

6 Risks Lab Technicians Face Without Professional Liability Insurance

Healthcare

Do Contact Tracers Need to Protect Themselves with Professional Liability Insurance?

Cyber

Telehealth Rules Relaxed During Pandemic

Cyber

Telehealth is More Than Just Video Appointments

Healthcare

Pharmacists: Which Specialty Is Right for You?

Healthcare

Sued for Malpractice: A Guide for Nurses and NPs

Healthcare

A Guide to Medical Director Insurance and the Costs

Healthcare

2021 Trends to Look for in Occupational Therapy

Healthcare

Become a COVID-19 Contact Tracer

Healthcare

How Much Does Physician Assistant Malpractice Insurance Cost?

Healthcare

Lab Technicians: Is a Travel Job Right for You?

Cyber

Why Your Agency Needs Home Healthcare Insurance

Healthcare

Covering Covid-19: Is Your Medical Laboratory at Risk?

Healthcare

A Complete Guide to Insurance for Physical Therapists

Healthcare

The Costs of Medical Staffing Agency Insurance

Healthcare

Why Start a Non-medical Home Healthcare Business

Healthcare

IV Nurse Day: Celebrate Jan 25

Healthcare

How to Become an IV Nurse

Healthcare

Charting by Exception: Errors by Omission or The Efficient New Norm?

Healthcare

Are You a Culturally Competent Nurse?

Healthcare

Risks of Abbreviations in Nurse Charting

Healthcare

A Guide to Starting a Home Healthcare Business

Healthcare

Nurses and The Good Samaritan Law

Cyber

Cyber Liability and HIPAA Compliance

Cyber

Why Hackers Love Healthcare Data

Cyber

Ransomware Rampant in Among Small Businesses

Cyber

What is the cost of a data breach?

General

NOW Insurance closes $2.5 million seed round, enhances AI-enabled platform

Cyber

Cost of a HIPAA Violation

Cyber

How to Create a Small Business Cyber Security Plan

Cyber

Small Business and Cloud Storage: Is Your Data Secure?

Cyber

Social Engineering: 7 Common Red Flags

Insurance Basics

Getting Liability Insurance for Events

General

Starting an Event Planning Business: A to Z

Insurance Basics

How Much Does Event Planning Insurance Cost?

Insurance Basics

Insurance for Event Planners: What You Need to Know

Insurance Basics

What’s Included in Event Planning Insurance Coverage?

Insurance Basics

What Can a Tax Preparer Be Held Liable For?

Insurance Basics

Tax Preparer Insurance 101

General

4 Nurse Staffing Issues to Avoid

General

What You Need to Know to Be a Tax Preparer

Insurance Basics

Insurance for Bookkeepers: A Complete Guide

General

How to Start a Nurse Staffing Agency

Insurance Basics

What is Liability Insurance for Bookkeepers?

General

How to Build Customer Relations in Your Business

Insurance Basics

A Guide to Medical Staffing Insurance

General

Developing an Effective Risk Management Plan

Insurance Basics

All You Need to Know About Therapist Insurance

Insurance Basics

What is Malpractice Insurance for Counselors?

Insurance Basics

Benefits of Therapist Liability Insurance

Insurance Basics

What’s the Average Counselor Malpractice Insurance Cost?

Insurance Basics

Risk and Hazards of Being a Massage Therapist

Insurance Basics

Do Nutritionists Need Insurance?

Insurance Basics

What’s Included In Massage Insurance Coverage?

Insurance Basics

Everything You Need to Know About Malpractice Insurance Coverage For Nutritionists

Insurance Basics

Do Massage Centers Need Insurance?

Insurance Basics

How Much Does Nutritionist Insurance Cost?

Insurance Basics

Insurance Plans For Nutritionists: Everything You Need to Know

Insurance Basics

Massage Therapy Insurance: A Beginner’s Guide

General

Coronavirus Outbreak: 3 Tips to Keep Your Healthcare Business Safe

General

Company Working From Home? Stay Safe of Cyber Attacks

Insurance Basics

Business Interruption Insurance and Coronavirus

General

4 Best Practices for Medical Workers During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Insurance Basics

Inside the Hacker’s Mind – Social Engineering

Insurance Basics

Do Consultants Need Insurance?

Insurance Basics

Fitness Center & Gym Insurance: A Beginner’s Guide

General

Should Your Company Work From Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Insurance Basics

Why Your Business Needs Wellness and Fitness Insurance: A Comprehensive Guide

Insurance Basics

What Is the Cost of Gym Insurance?

Insurance Basics

What Insurance Do Consultants Need?

Insurance Basics

How Much Is Insurance For a Consultant?

Insurance Basics

Benefits of Consulting Insurance Coverage

General

Pay as You Go Insurance for Healthcare Professionals

General

You Have Your Physician Assistant’s License: Now What?

General

Why Are You Still Buying Occurrence Malpractice Coverage?

General

What Does Malpractice Insurance Cost?

General

Physician Assistant Malpractice Coverage: A Practical Guide

General

Do Student Nurses Need Malpractice Insurance?

General

Ouch, You Hurt Me! Do Nurse Practitioners Need Their Own Malpractice Policy?

General

What Type of Insurance Do Nurses Need?

General

Understanding Insurance Terms: Back to Basics

General

What Does Professional Liability Insurance Cover?

General

Types of Insurance Available for Small Business Owners

General

Potential Small Business Risks

General

General Liability Insurance: How to Keep your Business Protected

General

Choosing a Business Insurance Provider: Everything You Need to Know

General

Business Insurance Plans – Do I Need One?

General

Benefits of Professional Liability Insurance

General

What Is the Average Cost of Errors and Omissions Insurance?

General

What Is Cyber Liability Insurance?

General

What Does Errors and Omissions Insurance Cover?

General

Cyber Insurance 101: Why You Need It

General

What Does a Cyber Liability Policy Cover?

General

Errors and Omissions Coverage: What Is It & How Does it Work?

General

What Is the Average Cost of Cyber Liability Insurance?

General

Who Needs Errors and Omissions Coverage?