• 12 January 2022
  • 15 min read

Cultural Awareness Within Nursing

  • Alexandria Grace
    Student Nurse
    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Ben Gordon
  • 0
  • 267
“I'm learning things every day about people's cultures that are different to mine. I'm always learning things about my own cultures, you know?”

What is Cultural Awareness? Why is it important? And why might it help you, as a Nurse, to be as aware as you can be about other cultures? Alex is here to answer all these questions and more!

Topics Covered In This Article

Introduction

Defining Cultural Awareness

The Importance For Your Patients

Background Reading Can Be A Huge Help

How It May Help With Your Colleagues

Having Empathy Towards Others

How To Approach Asking

Why Having The Conversation Is Important

There Is No Excuse Not To Learn

Parting Thoughts

Introduction

Hi guys, it is Alexandria Grace or Alex, as most people like to call me and I'm back with another video.

Today's video is going to be something a little bit different but I think is still just as relevant as any other Nursing advice video that I have made in the past and it is all about cultural awareness in healthcare and cultural awareness in general.

Defining Cultural Awareness

For me, and how a lot of other people see it, cultural awareness is being aware of your own culture or cultures and how they differ from other peoples, whether that be other people who live in your area, other people in your workplace, other people around the world, literally anywhere.

It's about being aware of people's differences.

What makes people different, what makes people unique and how that should be celebrated.

Some people may naturally be more culturally aware because of the way they were brought up.

For example, if you were brought up in somewhere that is more culturally, religiously or ethnically diverse, if you're like me and you were someone who was brought up in a family with different cultures and if you are somebody who just has more education on different cultures and maybe different practices and how different people from different places like to live their lives.

You don't necessarily have to be from a diverse place to understand cultural awareness and to be culturally aware but for the most part, having that experience of interacting with other people from different backgrounds will give you more of an insight into different cultures and how to be aware of them and how to celebrate them.

I wanted to touch on how cultural awareness can impact patients and their families within healthcare.

So whether you are a student Nurse, a qualified Nurse, anybody else working in the NHS or working in healthcare in general, whether you're in the UK or whether you're somewhere else in the world watching this video.

The Importance For Your Patients

Being culturally aware in regards to your patients' needs and their family's needs is so, so important for their experience, for their healing, for their general happiness, for their mental wellbeing, for so much stuff, it's ridiculous.

So cultural awareness is kind of like an umbrella topic that covers loads of sub-topics.

That could be someone's ethnicity, the country they come from, their religious beliefs, spiritual beliefs, traditional practices from the country they're from, literally anything.

It could be the food they eat and so many more things and I think a lot of the time in Nursing or when you're training to be a Nurse, in practice, you try so hard to make the patient and their family as comfortable as possible.

You try to make them feel as at home as possible even though they're in the hospital but that practice or trying to make somebody feel comfortable doesn't just mean, you know, giving someone pain medication or giving them an extra pillow.

It means making them feel like they are important, making them feel like they are valued, that their beliefs are valued, that their existence as a whole and everything that makes them a person and makes them them is valued.

So, this would include giving a patient a space and the privacy to be able to pray when they need to pray, making sure that the catering staff know what types of food they can and cannot eat, giving people privacy, respecting dignity if there are particular patients that can't show certain parts of their body, respecting that and making sure that regardless of maybe the mental state they're in, maybe if they've just come out of surgery or they've had some sort of injury where they're not themselves, you're still appreciating and following their requests and the family's requests, making sure that they feel comfortable and they feel accepted in an environment that is very scary is so, so important.

Background Reading Can Be A Huge Help

If you are a Nurse or want to be a Nurse practicing in places that are very culturally, ethnically, religiously diverse, this is particularly important because you will come across people from all walks of life, from all sorts of places around the world who believe in all sorts of different things and it's so amazing to see that and experience that and have conversations with these people and with that, you have to have the respect and the understanding.

So having some prior education about people's different religions and cultures and things like that can go a long way because if you are presented with a patient who has certain beliefs that you may have read about before, then you will know how to better take care of them and they will appreciate that so, so much.

How It May Help With Your Colleagues

So cultural awareness and health care is extremely important and I think it's just as important as a lot of physical aspects of Nursing and psychological aspects of Nursing.

Cultural education needs to also be something that happens with staff as well regardless of where you are or who you are, where you're from, you will come across colleagues and other staff members around the hospital, or on your ward or wherever you are who have different beliefs to you who may come from a different country, who have different cultural practices to you, they may be a different race to you and so having that respect for people's differences, having that understanding of people's differences and having people understand your differences as well and what makes you, you is so important and I think getting to know people in that way, getting to know your colleagues in that way, your patients makes for a better sense of community and with your colleagues it makes for a better sense of teamwork if you understand each other better and you understand the way that each other thinks and you understand why they do certain things or why they don't do certain things.

Having Empathy Towards Others

In the day and age that we live in, I think it should be a given that people make the effort, the conscious effort to learn about other people's cultures and other people's ways of life because for people who are from ethnic minority backgrounds or anyone else who can be considered different, working somewhere where you don't see people like you, people that look like you, people that are from the same place as you can be quite uncomfortable, just naturally, not because of the people you're working with are horrible, but naturally, if you're not around people who maybe are from the same place as you, they might not understand you.

They might not have the same interests as you.

That's not always the case.

Walking into a place where nobody looks like you and nobody understands, you know, where you're from or nobody understands your culture and people ask you inappropriate questions which I have experienced and a lot of other people I know have experienced is really uncomfortable, when you're in a working environment, it just makes you feel a bit like, you know, people just aren't very aware of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

Whereas, if you were to work in a place where nobody looks like you but people understand where you're from, they can ask appropriate questions.

They don't say anything inappropriate and they make you feel welcome, that is so different and that goes a long way.

A lot of people from culturally diverse backgrounds, ethnic minority backgrounds do sometimes feel almost alienated when they don't feel like they're being heard or seen because they are different or they're in an environment where they are a minority and that could be made so much easier by, you know, inclusion, obviously with more diversity and inclusion in staff but also just by better education and better understanding for everybody, so everybody can work together and understand each other and love each other because that in turn will decrease rifts between people and funny relationships and will just make a team work so much better if everybody understands each other and respects each other because in the times we're living in, in the day and age we're living in, it is so important that we respect each other and we don't discriminate against anybody for whatever they believe in, for their race, religion, sexuality, whatever.

How To Approach Asking

Leading on from this, I think a lot of people, like I kind of mentioned before, a lot of people from culturally diverse or ethnic minority backgrounds have experienced at least one situation where they've been in a ward setting, or in a healthcare setting and they felt quite uncomfortable by the way people have maybe spoken to them or asked them questions.

I think there are certain ways, especially when people are curious about where you're from and your culture and the way you look, I think there's a way to approach it.

If you ever have an experience of people asking questions about your hair, for example, trying to figure out just from how you look where you're from, there's ways of asking that are appropriate and ways of asking that aren't appropriate and can be borderline offensive.

So cultural awareness also comes into that and it's perfectly fine to be curious about somebody else's culture, somebody else's race, where they come from, you want to know more, but there is a way to go about it and I'm not gonna go into that into this video because that's kind of off topic.

Or if you are going to have conversations with somebody who is culturally different to you and you want to know more about their religion or their race or whatever, making sure that they are comfortable with what you're asking, asking questions in your head that you know sound appropriate and don't sound like you're intruding or that you're trying to be weird is very important and that's why cultural awareness training or just general education and reading up on these types of things is so important for anyone, not just for medical professionals, health care professionals, just for anybody so that people are more aware of other people's differences and more respectful of those differences.

Why Having The Conversation Is Important

So obviously this topic is quite different to the topics that I normally cover when I make Nursing videos but the reason why I wanted to talk about this topic is because I think it is so relevant and it will continue to be relevant forever because talking about race, religion, culture, diversity is something that does generally make people very uncomfortable but I feel like being in an uncomfortable conversation about race, I say uncomfortable, I'm gonna say it with quotation marks because being uncomfortable talking about something that doesn't really affect you is nowhere near as uncomfortable as being discriminated by what is mentioned in those conversations, if that makes sense.

Having these “uncomfortable” conversations can be the difference between somebody being bullied and somebody not being bullied.

It can be the difference between somebody being verbally, physically abused and them not being abused.

Being aware and being educated about these differences, about what makes people who they are is so important and I think it is really is the bare minimum. Especially if you're living in London or other areas that are diverse and you come across different people every single day, there's not really an excuse to not know and to not respect, it's different cultures and people's different ways of life, but obviously in NHS and in other healthcare settings, discrimination in any way, shape or form on anything, whether it's race, sexuality, gender, religion, whatever, is unacceptable.

Making the effort to learn how to pronounce somebody's name, making the effort to really try hard to communicate with somebody if they struggle to speak English, making the effort to learn about how somebody's day is structured based on how they need to pray, just respecting how people want to live their lives.

There Is No Excuse Not To Learn

It's just so, so, important and to try and minimize the amount of discrimination that there is in healthcare settings, because it is there, we all know it's there, it's everywhere, not everybody is racist or discriminatory but there are people that have unconscious biases.

There are people who just aren't educated in certain things.

If you are aware that you're uneducated on something, then it is your responsibility to educate yourself.

It shouldn't be the responsibility of people who are discriminated against to teach you how not to discriminate.

You should be able to actively learn that yourself in order to increase your own knowledge.

So, as I said, yes, it can be uncomfortable talking about these things because for a lot of people, they don't understand it and on the flip side for a lot of people, it can be quite traumatic to talk about these things but it needs to be spoken about and so, regardless of where you're from or what you believe in, your views and your opinions and the way you want to be treated whether you are a staff member or a patient are so valid, so important and you deserve to be respected in every way, shape or form.

Parting Thoughts

So, that is why cultural awareness is so, so important and is something that should be taught everywhere and people should always be reminded of it and how people should educate themselves.

Nobody knows everything.

I'm learning things every day about people's cultures that are different to mine. I'm always learning things about my own cultures, you know?

Like, everybody can learn something new.

Yeah, I hope this video was useful and enlightening for people and kind of reminded people how important it is to re-educate yourselves on people's differences and make sure that you are kind of checking yourselves sometimes and making sure that you are saying the right thing, you are doing the right thing and being respectful towards people who are different to you, regardless of who you are.

So yeah, I hope that was insightful for you and I wanna continue the conversation, I think is something that is so important in healthcare and in Nursing and yeah, it's something I'm quite passionate about but yeah, that is it for me.

I hope you enjoyed the video and I will see you in my next one, Bye.

About the author

  • Alexandria Grace
    Student Nurse

I am a Student Nurse specialising in Children’s Nursing, which I have a great passion for. I feel very strongly about equal treatment and care for everyone, as it sets all children and young people up for the best future possible! I create vlogs following my Nursing journey and advice videos to help others along their own journeys too.

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  • Alexandria Grace
    Student Nurse

About the author

  • Alexandria Grace
    Student Nurse

I am a Student Nurse specialising in Children’s Nursing, which I have a great passion for. I feel very strongly about equal treatment and care for everyone, as it sets all children and young people up for the best future possible! I create vlogs following my Nursing journey and advice videos to help others along their own journeys too.

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