N 490 What makes a nurse culturally competent?

Cultural Competence

Cultural care is the practice model of providing care that accommodates diverse beliefs, values, behaviors, and opinions of various clients. Cultural competence helps tailor care according the social, economic, and linguistic needs of each individual. Cultural competence has become a critical component of care because of its benefits to both the patients and healthcare providers. For instance, cultural competence respect for the patient’s choices, beliefs, and values; hence it fosters respect for personal autonomy. As such, cultural competence encourages communication between the health providers and the patient leading to more patient engagement and participation in their care (Handtke et al., 2019). Evidence shows that that through respect, engagement, and patient participation, cultural competence enhances safety and quality, leading to positive patient outcomes and high patient satisfaction with care. For the healthcare providers, cultural competence promotes great understanding and communication leading to motivation and job satisfaction.

What makes a nurse culturally competent

Nurses become cultural competence when they adopt an open view of the world to accommodate the beliefs, norms, and values of other people. This is important because of the recognition that people’s view about treatment and other medical decisions are influenced by their cultural backgrounds and worldview (Kaihlanen et al., 2019). Hence, having open-mindedness allow nurses to view treatment and care approach from the patient’s point of view. Additionally, nurses are culturally competent when they have knowledge regarding the beliefs, norms, and values of various cultures. Nurses work in a multicultural environment and must have adequate understanding of different cultures to provide culturally congruent care to culturally diverse patients. Nurses also demonstrate cultural competence by being aware of own cultural worldview. This awareness enables nurses to identify and eliminate personal biases that might be a hindrance to providing culturally appropriate care, as well as avoid judgment and stigmatization (Jongen et al., 2018). Culturally competent nurses also demonstrate empathy in their everyday practice and overall skills needed to communicate cross-culturally such as nonverbal gestures.


One scenario that I felt the healthcare team failed to exercise cultural competence is a case of a male patient who was brought to the emergency by a good samaritan who found him unconscious. After the patient gained consciousness, we needed to conduct a comprehensive health assessment to determine what could have caused the problem and identify other possible health issues. This meant asking the patient some question. However, we established that the patient had very limited understanding of English and also could not speak it well. The patient was a refugee from Pakistan who had been in the country for less than a year. Hence, conducting health assessment became challenging. The patient was later discharged because the tests caried out seemed to reveal no health issues with the patient. What the team could have located a health provider who understood the patient’s language to conduct assessment or act as interpreter (Handtke et al., 2019). Moreover, the situation exposed lack of basic cross-cultural skills by the health providers, which is critical for providing cross-cultural care and exercising cultural competence.


Handtke, O., Schilgen, B., & Mösko, M. (2019). Culturally competent healthcare – A scoping review of strategies implemented in healthcare organizations and a model of culturally competent healthcare provision. PlosOne, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0219971.

Jongen, C., McCalman, J., & Bainbridge, R. (2018). Health workforce cultural competency interventions: a systematic scoping review. BMC Health Serv Res, 18(1):232. https://doi.10.1186/s12913-018-3001-5.

Kaihlanen, A., Hietapakka, L., & Heponiemi, T. (2019). Increasing cultural awareness: qualitative study of nurses’ perceptions about cultural competence training. BMC Nurs , 18, 38. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-019-0363-x.

N 490 Module 6 Discussion

Lack of cultural awareness and failure to provide culturally competent care can impact patients in a negative manner, adding more stress, and resulting in inadequate care provided by nurses. First answer: What makes a nurse culturally competent? Then explain a situation in your practice as a nurse where either cultural competence was at the forefront of care or was lacking.