To be culturally competent the nurse needs to understand his/her own world views and those of the patient, while avoiding stereotyping and misapplication of scientific knowledge. Cultural competence is obtaining cultural information and then applying that knowledge. This cultural awareness allows you to see the entire picture and improves the quality of care and health outcomes. Adapting to different cultural beliefs and practices requires flexibility and a respect for others view points. Cultural competence means to really listen to the patient, to find out and learn about the patient's beliefs of health and illness. To provide culturally appropriate care we need to know and to understand culturally influenced health behaviors. In our society, nurses don't have to travel to faraway places to encounter all sorts of cultural differences, such as ethnic customs, traditions and taboos. The United States provides plenty of opportunities for challenges stemming from cultural diversity. To be culturally competent the nurse needs to learn how to mix a little cultural understanding with the nursing care they offer. In some parts of the United States culturally varied patient populations have long been the norm . But now, even in the homogeneous state of Maine where we reside, we are seeing a dramatic increase in immigrants from all over the world. These cultural differences are affecting even the most remote settings. Since the perception of illness and disease and their causes varies by culture, these individual preferences affect the approaches to health care. Culture also influences how people seek health care and how they behave toward health care providers. How we care for patients and how patients respond to this care is greatly influenced by culture. Health care providers must possess the ability and knowledge to communicate and to understand health behaviors influenced by culture. Having this ability and knowledge can...
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