11.07.2019 in Health

How Nursing Roles are Affected by Diversity


These days, the environments that nurses work in are very culturally diverse. The modern model of health care provision includes a mixture of professional personnel and patients who all come from different cultural and social backgrounds. In these circumstances, it is important for each professional operative to pay close attention to the cultural requirements of the patients in their care. Diversity issues particularly concern nurses because more of their time is spent with patients than is the case with other professionals such as, for example, doctors. Therefore, people in the nursing profession need to understand the diverse interests of their patients. For instance, they need to take account of their cultural backgrounds as well as the peculiarities of each individual so that everyone receives high-quality health care. Doing so allows nurses to help patients recover and get through any health-related problems they have so that they can return to their normal lives successfully. On the other hand, however, a lack of knowledge in terms of diversity can lead nurses to fail in their efforts and, worse still, can jeopardize the possibility of the treatments provided by physicians being successful. This is because it is more difficult for patients to recover if the nursing care they receive is not efficient enough, something that can happen when nurses do not understand the expectations and needs of a diverse range of patients. All this suggests that the concept of diversity is integral to modern-day nursing and those engaged in the profession need to understand diversity. This knowledge would enable operatives to find the right approach for each individual patient in respect of their culture and specific needs, thereby providing all patients with the best level of health care.

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How Diversity Applies to Modern Health Care Methods

This section will focus on the main issues concerning diversity in the modern health care sector. Or to be more precise why it is important to pay attention to the culturally diverse backgrounds and individual expectations and needs of patients. Another consideration for nurses is to understand diversity as it exists among the personnel in their organizations in order for them to be able to work effectively with each other and with other professionals in their field. Last but not least, a lot of nurses nowadays come from many different countries, which means they themselves come from diverse backgrounds, and must learn how to interact effectively with fellow nurses both during training and in the workplace.     

Patients and Cultural Diversity

The many cultural differences that exist among patients are key issues that affect the consistency of the work that nurses do. In reality, patients come from diverse cultures and it is the responsibility of nurses to learn to work with these patients. Generally speaking, patients are no longer as homogeneous as was previously the case. Their many different backgrounds have brought about different principles, rules, values, ethical behaviors, and the like. This considerable diversity can lead to some serious issues in the course of a nurse’s work because they are obliged to provide the best health care service possible to patients, some of which may encroach on a patient’s principles, values, and ethical beliefs. Simultaneously, a growth in multicultural societies and increased immigration are other factors that contribute to long-term diversity. This makes it imperative that cultural diversity as it applies to health care is given priority in nurses’ training and in their professional career development.   

Interaction at international level between nurses and other health care professionals

Cultural diversity not only affects relationships between nurses and their patients but it also affects the relationships between nurses and other professionals in the health care industry and within the same organization. Usually, the people who work in medical centers and hospitals come from diverse backgrounds. Hence, it is important that nurses can interact in an effective way with culturally different colleagues in the same way that they must be able to work with culturally diverse patients. In these circumstances, nurses need to understand the basic needs, principles, values, and ethical rules that colleagues operate by in order to effectively carry out their everyday work.  

It is also important to consider the increasing levels of cooperation that occur between health care operators in different countries. Take Medicins Sans Frontieres, the Red Cross and a number of other global organizations for example. These all require nurses from different backgrounds to work closely together. It is important they are able to interact and work closely together in an effective manner to deliver vital health care services. In these situations, diversity can create some insurmountable barriers that prevent nurses from performing effectively on a professional level. On the other hand, knowing how to develop effective strategies for working with culturally diverse people will ensure optimum performance and high-quality health care.    

Providing Training for Nurses from Foreign Countries

The increasing cooperation between international health care providers creates the need to train foreign nurses in national health care standards. This also raises the issues of nursing standards, traditions and diverse cultural backgrounds. Standards in a particular country can conflict with the approaches and standards foreign nurses are used to. It is, therefore, essential for nurses to adapt to certain worldwide standards if conflict is to be avoided between nursing staff and patients, and between nursing staff and other professionals whose traditions, standards, and cultural backgrounds are different. 

Why Tolerance and Diversity are Important among Nursing Staff

Clearly, the diversity in modern health care requires nurses to be tolerant in order to work effectively.  

Understanding the needs and customs of patients from different cultures

It is vital the education and ongoing professional development training given to nurses is geared towards tolerance, which means understanding the particular customs and needs of patients from diverse backgrounds. This will allow nurses to learn about individual patients’ needs, values, traditions, and cultural peculiarities. When nurses are able to take patient needs into consideration and meet these, they will avoid acting offensively or not taking the appropriate action through ignorance of the patient’s cultural background.  

Study and evaluation of community-based diversity

It is not possible for nurses to work in an isolated manner from the rest of a community because both nurses and patients are affected by their local community. Furthermore, the way communities are getting involved in treating and caring for patients, particularly those with psychological and/or mental health issues is growing in intensity and popularity. Consequently, it is important that nurses are able to interact well in local communities if they are to be effective and provide the best health care. Additionally, they may be able to help integrate patients into their local communities, which may aid various patient treatments and speed up recovery. Simultaneously, not only can better interaction between local communities and health care providers help with patient treatment but it can also help prevent disease developing and/or spreading within such communities. Nonetheless, if community-based nurses and organizations providing health care do not have a good understanding of cultural issues, it can be difficult to successfully develop good rapport with members of a community. 

Developing the tolerance to operate in culturally diverse environments

Undoubtedly, the education and continuous professional development of nurses should include developing tolerance as a main strategic goal, especially amongst those who work in environments made up of culturally diverse people. Indeed, it is important that nurses are able to devise effective approaches and strategies towards patients from diverse backgrounds. It is not possible to achieve this if the nurse is not familiar with the cultural values, traditions, standards and principles of the patients they are serving. It is for this reason nurses should learn about cultural diversity when they begin working with patients. With this useful knowledge, nurses will be able to develop a personalized approach for dealing with individual patients to properly meet their expectations and needs. In turn, this will maximize each nurse’s effectiveness and speed up patient recovery.   

To Conclude

On a concluding note, it is essential to emphasize the fact that the working environments of most nurses are culturally diverse. This diversity can impact the relationships nurses have with their patients and fellow health care workers. In these circumstances, it is important that nursing education and ongoing professional development programs focus on issues related to diversity and developing tolerance. Better education will allow nurses to deliver better-quality health and patient care.

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