Cultural Competence in Nursing


The nursing profession has witnessed a number of emerging trends, which aim at improving service delivery in a contemporary work environment. One of the trends that have emerged in the nursing profession is cultural competency. Cultural competency refers to the ability of an individual to understand and relate well with people from different cultural backgrounds (Dana & Allen, 2008). Cultural competency is a value held in high esteem within the nursing profession.

Cultural competency in nursing involves the cognitive ability, mental attitude, and accomplishments of an individual that enable them to provide care to people from different cultures. Studies have shown that culture plays a crucial role in the development of perceptions that people have regarding health care services. People have different preferences on the kind of medication right for them, depending on their cultural beliefs. Therefore, it is important for nurses to be cognizant of the ethnic background of their patients.

This allows them to provide the right healthcare service (Jeffrey, 2010). Healthcare providers have a responsibility to ensure that they get all the necessary information about the cultural beliefs of the people they serve. They should promote people’s culture through their work by respecting their viewpoints, beliefs, and values.

With the high rate of globalization and technology development experienced in the 21st Century, people are increasingly interacting in a more culturally dynamic environment. Therefore, cultural competency is an essential skill that nurses should have in order to achieve success in the contemporary workplace (Jeffrey, 2010).


The concept of cultural competency has been an influential trend in the nursing profession over the last couple of years. Its huge influence on the success of the profession has led to it being part of the curriculum in nursing schools. Studies have shown that the contemporary healthcare work environment is very dynamic, diverse, and demand for nurses. One of the main contributing factors to this phenomenon has been a highly multicultural society (Anderson, 2008).

Nurses have to increase their knowledge of various cultures, develop the right attitude, and advance the skills in order to have better service delivery. Nurses should have enough knowledge about the culture of the people in the areas they work in. Their main concern should be to establish the impact of people’s beliefs and practices on healthcare services. It is also important for nurses to have the right attitude towards the cultural beliefs and practices of people.

They should be conscious of any preconceptions and partialities they develop regarding the culture of people in an area (Dana & Allen, 2008). Nurses should avoid taking positions of patients based on motivations driven by conventional conceptions about their culture.

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Nurses should also ensure that they advance essential abilities such as communication skills as a way of respecting the culture of people in the area they work in. For example, they can try to learn the basic elements of the people’s language for the sake of communicating with patients who do not comprehend other languages (Jeffrey, 2010). Cultural competency in the nursing profession also applies as an ethical obligation owing to the fact that a nurse acts as an advocate for people’s welfare.

The ethical code of conduct in the nursing profession requires all healthcare providers to respect the identity of their patients. This is important because the culture has a very crucial role to play in health care provision. Important cultural elements, such as gender roles and traditional health care practices, influence how people from a certain culture perceive contemporary services (Anderson, 2008).

Building a culturally competent health care workplace

Building a culturally competent workforce is a challenge for organizational leaders. The reason for this is the delicate nature of organizational cultures when exposed to change. Cultural competency in the workplace requires slight changes in the organizational culture of health care organizations (Dana & Allen, 2008).

Organizational culture is very sensitive to changes, especially those influenced by external forces. Organizational leaders have to deal with a number of challenges. First, people often demonstrate their unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions or beliefs. Second, people also develop partialities that prevent objective consideration of issues and situations to the favor of others (Starr, 2008). This leaves certain people feeling isolated and lose their attachment towards achieving a certain shared goal.

These challenges make it hard for health care organizations to show their respect for the identity of the people they serve. However, health care organizations should strive to have a culturally competent workforce because it helps to foster good relations between nurses and their patients (Starr, 2008).

Studies have shown that cultural competency is one of the most desirable qualities among nurses in contemporary health care provision. Health care workforces are also having a higher level of cultural diversity, and nurses have to have the right cultural aptitude in order to develop a formidable health care team. When nurses learn to respect the identities of their colleagues, doing the same for the people they serve will not be a challenge to them (Starr, 2008).


Culture represents the identity of people because it shows the knowledge and values shared by a society. The contemporary health care work environment entails nurses working in culturally diverse workplaces and communities.

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This has increased the demand for culturally competent health care professionals who have the ability to provide services to people with different cultural backgrounds. It entails having knowledge of various cultures, developing the right attitude, and advancing individual competences. As the rate of globalization continues to rise, nurses have to ensure that they increase their competency levels.


Anderson, B. A. (2008). Caring for the Vulnerable: Perspectives in Nursing Theory, Practice, and Research. New York: Jones & Bartlett learning.

Dana, R., & Allen, J. (2008). Cultural Competency Training in a Global Society. New Jersey: Cambridge University Press.

Jeffrey, M. R. (2010). Teaching Cultural Competency in Nursing and Healthcare: Inquiry, Action, & Innovation. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Starr, S. S. (2008). Dimensions of Cultural Competence: Nurse-Client Perspectives. California: Cengage Learning.

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