Tue 12 Apr, 2005 09:22 am
Do you think as a nurse we should be educated in various cultures more. I think it would help us relate to our patients better, and be more sensitive to their situation. I am not sure of a better way to learn then through experiences. I guess we live and learn.
Some facilities are now requiring training in dealing with various cultures. for example, I am working with a hospital that has a huge Vietnamese community in the facility's draw area. So the facility teaches its staff about the cultural differences that may be present to better serve their patients.
I think it is a really good idea. My father is a physician. About 30 years ago, when he was in his residency, he had a patient from another country...I want to say that it was Ireland? Anyhow...the patient was in pain, and kept saying "Water, water, water...." So the nurses on that shift kept trying to give the patient water. They would placed a cup of water in front of him, and he would just continue to say "water, water, water...." So the nurses eventually tried to pour the cup of water into the patient's mouth, and the patient would spit it out and knock the up over. This went on for the entire shift.
The next morning, during the shift change, the nurses were telling the next shift of the patient who kept saying water, but then refusing water. One of the new nurses then said that in his country, "water" is an expresson similar to "oui." Because the nurses didn't understand the patients culture, they mistook his expression to mean that he actually wanted water. The poor patient had water pured down his throat.
So I can see where cultural education could be potentiall important. I imagine cultural differences may also come up when you lose patients or other critical times.
I am not a nurse, but I obviously hear stories. Has anyone else expereinced something like this, where cultural misunderstanding actually effected patient care. I am sure there are some interesting stories out there.
Not only will being educated in other cultures help you take better care of the patients but it will also save you possible embarresment. I read an article where a nures was taking care of two women married to the same man. She of course didn't want to offend anyone, but ended up doing just that because she was trying hard not to. Of course the patients were understanding, as the american culture does not welcome this lifestyle and they were use to it. The problem we face: not enough time to educate ourselves on every culture, so we end up learning as we go.