The Importance of Transcultural Nursing

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Transcultural nursing, or cultural competence, is the practice of incorporating a patient’s culture and values into their care. Cultural competence can impact patients facing language barriers, class differences, and more. Patients, nurses, and organizations benefit physically and financially when incorporating cultural competence into care practice.

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Every nurse aspires to improve the lives and health of their patients. As new research and theories are developed to optimize health care practices, nurses must incorporate them into patient care.

Notre Dame of Maryland University is committed to instilling in our students a commitment to service and social consciousness. In our Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, students will gain hands-on experience working with patients during clinical rotations. The guidance they receive throughout their education from dedicated faculty and health care professionals will help them grow into competent and conscientious health care providers.

One theory that plays a vital role in proficient nursing care is transcultural nursing. Let’s learn about this essential care approach and how it will benefit your practice.

What is Transcultural Nursing?

Throughout their careers, nurses treat patients from different ethnicities and cultures. Patient-centered care means they must tailor nursing care to the individual.

Culture directly influences how people react to their illness, what treatments they seek, and if they choose treatment at all. Transcultural nursing, also known as cultural competence, refers to factoring a patient’s cultural background — such as religion, lifestyle, family history, beliefs, and values — into their care.

As the first point of contact for a patient, nurses are best suited for offering transcultural care. Understanding how to implement transcultural nursing is vital to holistic nursing care; a person’s values and beliefs play a large part in recognizing a patient as more than just their symptoms.

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Origins of Transcultural Nursing

Dr. Madeleine Leininger founded transcultural nursing in the mid-1950s and eventually established the Transcultural Nursing Society at the University of Utah. Leininger affirmed that her practice focuses on the differences and similarities of beliefs, values, and cultures “to provide culturally congruent, meaningful, and beneficial healthcare to people.”

Today, the Transcultural Nursing Society continues Leininger’s work by increasing awareness of this nursing practice through its annual conferences, where nurses can network and participate in discussions on relevant issues within the field.

Key Principles of Transcultural Nursing

Leininger provided three core principles that nurses should follow to practice culturally sensitive care:

  • Cultural Preservation or Maintenance: Nursing care, decisions, and actions that incorporate patients’ cultural values in the context of health care practice
  • Cultural Care Accommodation or Negotiation: Nurses working with patients to adjust the care plan to fit their beliefs or values while still achieving a positive health care outcome
  • Cultural Care Repatterning or Restructuring: Engaging with patients to reshape their lifestyles to improve health conditions while remaining respectful and considering their cultural values and beliefs

An example of implementing these principles is adjusting a patient’s medication timing around their prayer schedule so there are no conflicts or adjusting a patient’s diet plan around their cultural eating practices.

The Importance of Cultural Competence in Nursing

The Patient Safety Network (PSNet) published an article on cultural competence in nursing and patient safety, citing a study that found patients with limited English proficiency were more likely to experience adverse health outcomes than their English-proficient counterparts.

nursing student in sim lab

The PSNet concluded that these adverse outcomes result from diagnostic errors, missed screenings, inadequate patient adherence to treatment plans, and other missed care opportunities due to a communication disconnect. In these events, nurses must consider every aspect of their patients to ensure the patient and practitioner understand the issue and how to treat it. With language disparities, you must guarantee clarity by using all your resources, whether through the patient’s family members or a translator.

Cultural competence in nursing extends beyond racial or religious diversity to urban versus rural life differences. According to updated criteria, as of 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau identifies 20% of the population, approximately 65 million citizens, as living in a rural area.

The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIHub) reports that people in rural areas typically encounter more significant obstacles to receiving health care than other populations due to various factors. To receive quality health care, rural towns need factors including:

  • The financial means to pay for services, including health or dental insurance.
  • Trust that they will be given competent health care without compromising their privacy.
  • Transportation to the health care facility and the means to take paid time off work when using such services.
  • The confidence to properly communicate with health care workers, whether they are inhibited by language or health literacy proficiency.

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) recommends that nursing institutions encourage students to pursue careers in more rural regions to overcome these disparities. After COVID-19, demographics shifted with a surge of people moving into rural areas, but more is needed to resolve the imbalance. Telehealth may also act as a bridge to reach beyond the physical gap.

Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of nurses and health care professionals focusing on transcultural care to consider these factors in their career decisions.

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Benefits of Transcultural Care in Nursing

The American Hospital Association created a guide for health care organizations to incorporate cultural competence into every business level. It is not only the obligation of individual nurses to practice transcultural nursing but also of hospitals and care systems to take the initiative in implementing this strategy.

In doing so, they increase the integrity and efficiency of the entire facility.

Patient Benefits

Patient safety should be at the forefront of every health care strategy, and an organizational emphasis on culturally competent care can work to address this. To optimize health care systems and procedures, cultural competence in nursing:

  • Increases mutual respect and understanding between patient and organization
  • Builds trust between patients and providers
  • Promotes inclusion of all community members
  • Allows for community involvement in health issues
  • Includes patients and families in their care

Nurse Benefits

ABSN student in sim lab

Nursing is a selfless profession; what benefits the patient typically makes a nurse’s job easier. Transcultural nursing benefits nurses by:

  • Honing accuracy in patient data collection
  • Improving preventive care strategies
  • Limiting care disparities in the patient population
  • Reducing medical errors, number of treatments, and legal costs
  • Lessening the number of missed medical visits

Organizational Benefits

A hospital is a business that relies on setting goals to improve its efficiency and profitability, like any other. Cultural competence allows health care facilities to:

  • Remove barriers that inhibit progress
  • Meet regulatory and legal guidelines
  • Integrate diverse perspectives, ideas, and strategies into organizational decisions
  • Increase the efficiency and accuracy of care services
  • Grow the organization’s market share

Keep cultural competence at the forefront of your mind throughout your nursing education, and your nursing skills will blossom.

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Train For Transcultural Nursing at Notre Dame of Maryland University

Now that you know how to be a conscientious care provider, are you excited to begin your nursing education? Notre Dame of Maryland University’s ABSN program allows dedicated students to graduate with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in as few as 15 months, prepared to tackle the NCLEX-RN exam.

Contact us today to speak with an admissions advisor and start building your application.