Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.
Today, nurses operate in the cultural diverse environment. The contemporary health care setting incorporates both professionals and patients with a diverse cultural background as well as social level. In such a situation, health care professionals have to pay a lot of attention to cultural needs of their patients, while nurses are particularly concerned with issues related to diversity because they spend more time with patients than any other health care professionals. Therefore, professional nurses have to understand the diverse needs of their patients and take into consideration cultural as well as individual peculiarities of each patient to provide them with health care services of the high quality. In such a way, nurses are able to facilitate the recovery of patients and help them to pass through their health problems successfully returning to the normal life. In stark contrast, the ignorance of diversity related issues may lead to the failure of nurses to succeed in their work and, what is even more important, the ignorance of diversity put under a threat positive outcomes of the treatment conducted by physicians with the assistance of nurses because patients cannot recover if nursing is inefficient which is the case of nurses’ unawareness of diverse patients’ needs and expectations. In such a way, the diversity is an integral concept of the modern nursing and nurses should understand the essence of diversity and be able to find individual approach to each patient respectively to their diverse cultural and individual needs to provide effective health care services to all patients.
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Diversity in the contemporary health care setting
This chapter focuses on the major issues related to diversity in the contemporary health care setting. To put it more precisely, it is necessary to focus on cultural diversity of patients, their diverse cultural background and individual needs and expectations; the diversity within the personnel of health care organizations for nurses have to cooperate effectively with other health care professionals as well as with each other; finally, today, many nurses from different countries get training and nurses with different cultural background have to learn to interact with each other effectively both in the course of the training and in their regular work.
Cultural diversity of patients
The cultural diversity of patients is a very important issue affecting the work of nurses consistently. In actuality, patients have a diverse cultural background and nurses have to learn to work with patients with diverse cultural background. Patients are not as homogeneous as they used to be in the past. The diverse cultural background leads to the development of diverse sets of values, ethical norms and principles, diverse models of behavior, and so on. Such diversity may raise very serious problems in the course of work of nurses because they have to provide patients with health care services, which may affect patients’ values or ethical norms and principles. At the same time, the growing immigration and multicultural environment contributes to the long-lasting diversity that makes the adaptation of nurses to cultural diversity in health care setting one of the priorities in their education and professional development.
Close interaction between nurses and health care professionals at the international level
At the same time, the cultural diversity affects not only relationships of nurses and patients but also the relationship of nurses and other health care professionals working within one and the same health care organization. The personnel of hospitals and medical centers is culturally diverse. Therefore, nurses should be able to interact effectively with their colleagues regardless of cultural differences, which effect is similar to that of the difference in cultural background of nurses and patients. In such a situation, nurses should understand the needs and basic values, ethical norms and principles of their colleagues to develop effective strategies which they can use in their regular work.
On the other hand, it is important to take into consideration the growing cooperation between health care organizations at the international level. For instance, Red Cross, Medicins Sans Frontieres, and other international organizations contribute to the closer cooperation between nurses with diverse cultural background. They have to work together and interact effectively to provide patients with essential health care services. In such a situation, diversity can become an unsurpassable barrier preventing nurses from effective professional performance, whereas understanding and development of effective strategies of work in the culturally diverse environment helps nurses to maximize their performance and deliver health care services of the high quality.
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Training of foreign nurses
The emerging cooperation between health care organizations and professionals at the international level stimulates the training of nurses from foreign countries in the national health care organizations. In this respect, the training of foreign nurses raises the problem of diversity of cultural background, traditions, and standards of nurses. The existing national standards and approaches to nursing may come into conflict with standards and approaches to nursing foreign nurses are accustomed to. Therefore, nurses need to adapt their work to some universal standards to avoid conflicts between nurses, as well as between nurses and patients, between nurses and other health care professionals with different cultural background, standards and traditions.
Importance of diversity and tolerance among nurses
Obviously, the contemporary diverse health care setting stimulates the development of tolerance among nurses to maximize the effectiveness of their work in the diverse environment.
Understanding needs and cultural peculiarities of patients with diverse cultural background
The education and professional development of nurses operating in the culturally diverse health care setting should focus on the development of tolerance, which is grounded on the understanding of needs and cultural peculiarities of patients with different cultural background. In such a way, nurses learn needs and cultural peculiarities of patients, that means understanding of their cultural norms, traditions and values. As a result, nurses can take into consideration patients’ needs and to meet their expectations avoiding offensive action or inaction that may occur in case of ignorance of cultural peculiarities of patients.
Study and assessment of diversity within the community
Nurses cannot work in isolation from the community because the local community affects not only nurses but also patients. Moreover, the community involvement in the treatment of patients, especially with mental health problems or psychological problems, grows more and more popular. Therefore, nurses need to be able to interact with the local community to work effectively and to provide patients with effective health care services. In addition, they may help patients to get integrated into the local community that may facilitate their treatment and recovery. At the same time, the interaction between the local community and health care organizations can not only help to treat patients effectively but also to prevent the development of diseases within the community. However, without understanding of cultural background, needs, norms and traditions of the community nurses, as well as health care organizations, cannot succeed in the development of positive relationships with local community members.
Development of tolerance in nurses operating in culturally diverse environment
One of the major strategic goals of nursing education and professional development should be the promotion of tolerance in nurses, especially those, who operate in culturally diverse environment. In fact, nurses have to be able to develop effective strategies and approaches to patients with diverse cultural background. The latter is impossible if they do not know cultural norms, standards, ethical principles and values of their patients. This is why, when nurses get started to work with patients, they should learn their cultural background and understand clearly their needs and cultural peculiarities. On the ground of this knowledge, nurses can develop an individual approach to each patient respectively to their needs and expectations. In such a way, nurses can maximize the effectiveness of their work and help patients to recover faster.
In conclusion, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that nurses work in culturally diverse environment. They are vulnerable to the impact of diversity in their relationships with patients and their colleagues. In such a situation, nurses need to pay a particular attention to diversity and development of tolerance in the course of their education and professional development. In such a way, understanding of diversity and tolerance can help nurses to provide health care services of the high quality.
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