Sample Essays on Cultural Competency in Nursing

Cultural Competency in Nursing


In cultural competence (CC), meanings and experiences associated with sicknesses and treatments are grounded within specific cultural values and beliefs. In this case, healthcare experts must have the skills and knowledge required in delivering patient care across cultures. Health care providers face cultural-based challenges since CC demands for variation on how patient care is availed across cultures (Leever, 2011). For instance, women from the Middle East prefer receiving treatment from female physicians on matters of reproduction.

Definition: CC in nursing means that health care providers must have the willingness and ability to adjust to cultural-based needs of patients and their families. The CC process, thus, comprises of cultural awareness, knowledge, skill, encounters, and desires. Brach and Fraserirector (2000) further described that CC extends beyond cultural sensitivity and awareness to include having cultural knowledge and respect for diverse cultural perspectives, in addition to having skills and abilities for effective application within cross-cultural environments. In essence, it is a progressive institutionalization or commitment towards proper policies and practices for diverse populations (Jirwe et al, 2008).


According to Brach and Fraserirector (2000), CC helps in minimizing ethnic and racial disparities. CC similarly enables healthcare organizations to accommodate other minority groups including the elderly, women, the disabled, religious, lesbians, and gays. Moreover, the process of CC ensures their cultural values and beliefs are respected when receiving medical care. Additionally, CC promotes the understanding of personal cultural beliefs and values, plus the cultures of other people (Sensor, 2006). According to Douglas et al (2009), this is beneficial because it ensures appropriate nursing care that is deemed effective by patients, communities, families and the populations. CC also helps in improving professionalism in nursing plus the personal practice. Further, CC ensures nurses have an understanding of the traditions, perspectives, practices, family systems, and values of culturally diverse populations on whom they offer care, while also knowing the complex factors that influence the achievement of improved health.


Nurses have to clearly know the sources of cultural conflicts for them to be culturally competent. The factors that cause cultural conflicts, therefore, are considered barriers to CC. Ethnocentrism, for example, can limit a nurse’s cultural competence because the individual will believe on his/her culture as superior than that of others (Sensor, 2006). Other barriers to CC comprises of prejudice and bias plus discrimination and stereotyping. Cultural imposition is similarly a barrier to CC among nurses because it imposes one’s personal beliefs, values, and cultures on others. Cultural ignorance also hinders CC because it makes a nurse to lack knowledge regarding other cultures. Poor communication is similarly a great barrier towards CC because it limits the comprehension of another person’s culture. Lastly, lack of a diverse workforce and leadership in health care organizations plus poorly designed care systems also hinders CC because they limit the ability to satisfy the needs of diverse populations (Betancourt et al, 2002).

How to be Culturally Competent

Promoting patients’ good and respecting their autonomy through CC must integrate considerable preparation (Leever, 2011). Furthermore, resolving ethical problems within health care organizations requires the handling of matters right from the organizational level. Failure to satisfy the patients’ cultural needs incorporates both the health professionals’ actions while also integrating all the organizational forces contributing towards the failure. Therefore, becoming culturally competent require organizations be committed through educating their staffs, effective resource allocation, planning strategically, following-up in addition to overall preparedness. Such organizations have to take deliberate actions or steps in preparation to satisfy communities’ cultural needs within their areas of operation.

Both the staffs and their organizations must invest their resources and time for CC to be successful and effective in nursing. According to Brach and Fraserirector (2000), CC can further be promoted through institutionalizing the health systems. The authors also recommended various techniques that can help in promoting CC in nursing including interpreting services, effective recruitment, and retention practices for minority groups, coordinating with the traditional healers and using community health workers. Other suggested methods included creating training programs, culturally competent promotion of health, including community and family members, immersing into a different culture plus organizational/administrative accommodations (Bell et al, 2011).

Current Condition of CC in Nursing

The US is speedily becoming among the leading ethnically and racially diverse nations worldwide. Reyes et al (2013) observed that if this trend continues, the minorities will be more than 50% in the region within the next five decades. As the numbers continue rising, attaining higher CC within the nursing profession and among healthcare workers with an aim to satisfy patients’ needs is becoming increasingly crucial. According to Reyes et al (2013), it is notable that the ethnic and racial diversity within the present nursing workforce does not reflect the general population. Apparently, it is clear that people from the ethnically and racially diverse populations experience higher rates of disabilities and sicknesses. In fact, such people have experienced minimized healthcare access in comparison to the whole population. In the US, for example, there has been progress in minimizing health disparities although there are still exists constant problems challenging the healthcare system in the region. Even though there have been complex causes of such disparities, CC education for nurses plus other healthcare professionals are considered among the most effective interventions required in changing the current conditions (Lehman et al, 2006;Campinha-Bacote, 2002). Indeed, the necessity for culturally competent healthcare has turned to be a global concern especially considering the present and escalating growth of global migration. For this reason, the current literature illustrates the need for culturally competent patient care internationally.


The above discussion has provided a review of the literature on CC in nursing. Included are the definitions for CC, its benefits, limitations, current condition plus how cultural competence can be attained. The analysis has shown a growing need for more CC within the nursing field for effective health care delivery across diverse cultures while also reducing disparities among the minoritie


Bell, S., Schim, S., Templin, T., Benkert, R., & Doorenbos, A. (2011). Testing a Multi-Group Model of Culturally Competent Behaviors among Underrepresented Nurse Practitioners. Res Nurs Health, 34(4):327-341.

Betancourt, J., Green, A., & Carrillo, E. (2002). Cultural Competence in Health Care: Emerging Frameworks and Practical Approaches. Field Report, 1(1):1-40.

Brach, C., & Fraserirector, I. (2000). Can Cultural Competency Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities? A Review and Conceptual Model. Medical Care Research and Review, 57(1):181-217.

Campinha-Bacote, J.  (2002). The Process of Cultural Competence in the Delivery of Healthcare Services: A Model of Care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing 13(3): 181-184.

Douglas, M., Pierce, J., Callister, L., Lauderdale, J., Miller, J., Nardi, D., & Pacquiao, D. (2009). Standards of Practice for Culturally Competent Nursing Care: A Request for Comments. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 20(3):257-269.

Jirwe, M., Gerrish, K, Keeney., S., & Emami, A. (2008). Identifying the core Components of Cultural Competence: Findings from a Delphi Study. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 18(1):2622-2634.

Leever, M. (2011). Cultural Competence: Reflections on Patient Autonomy and Patient Good. Nursing Ethics, 18(4):560-570.

Lehman, D., Fenza, P., & Hollinger-Smith, L. (2006). Diversity and Cultural Competency in Health Care Settings. Matherlifeways Research, 1(1):1-25.

Reyes, H., Branson, M., Hartin, V., & Loftin, C. (2013). Measures of Cultural Competence in Nurses” An Integrative Review.The Scientific World Journal, 1(1):1-11.

Sensor, C. (2006). Culturally Competent Care in the Workplace. NSNA Imprin