Cultural competence is the ability of an individual to be aware of the social, economic, religion, and political practices of different groups of people. In professional quarters, educators, researchers, and medical practitioners like nurses and clinicians have to learn cultural competence for effective service delivery.
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Cultural competence in both the education and health sectors ensure that individuals access quality services despite or in relation to their cultural background.
Countries like the United States, which have multicultural diversity, have established systems or strategies to enhance cultural competence within different professions. Cultural competence enhances equality, peace, and human rights when effectively practiced.
Cultural and personal awareness among professions is among the strategies established to enhance cultural competence. Nurses, teachers/educators, and community researchers have to understand their cultural background, which allows them to integrate effectively with other people’s cultures like their patients or students while on duty. Moreover, teachers, nurses, and researchers have to learn the cultural practices of different racial groups.
For instance, religious affiliation like ‘Jehovah’s Witness’ is against blood transfusion thus a medical practitioner should be aware of such culture to uphold professional competency. Giger and Davidhizar (1991), reminisce a situation where a patient declined blood transfusion after bone marrow transplantation because it was against his cultural beliefs embedded in his religion (p.223).
The second strategy is group discussion whereby clinicians, educators and researchers are able to learn about cultural practices of different communities, religions, and races through interaction with colleagues. Eventually, professionals are able to understand the family or traditional systems of the people they serve.
The last strategy is to promote openness, friendliness, and flexibility, which promotes effective communication with clients. In an environment where professionals understand their clients’ cultures, clients like patients or students are able to express their cultural likes and dislikes (Andrews & Boyle, 2008, p.15).
For instance, the Islam as a religion calls for its believers to pray during lunch hour; therefore, educators/teachers should be aware of the practice to allow their students to do so. Thus, communication within educators, clinicians, and researchers is the major system that upholds cultural competence.
Cultural competence is important in the professional sector because it promotes equality thus bridging the gap in health disparity and ensures quality education and community based services (Dienemann, 1997, p.20).
Cultural competent clinicians, educators, and researchers ensure their clients receive services without infringing their cultural practices. Furthermore, cultural competence promotes peace because there is no violation of human rights while offering services.
Language competence, as one of the cultural competence elements, ensures that educators, researchers, and clinician are able to address professional issues using firsthand information. Moreover, professionals are ready to cope and solve challenges competently.
For instance, clinicians may encounter a patient that prefers herbal medicine for treatment of a disease like HIV/AIDS, which may turn out fatal. Nevertheless, a cultural competent clinician will convince the family or the patient to adopt modern medication.
Therefore, cultural competent professions adhere to the needs of all their clients despite language and cultural barriers and such promotes unity in a nation.
In summary, cultural competence is mandatory among professionals. Therefore, clinicians, teachers, and educators should not only be aware of their cultural practices, but also of other communities or group. Friendliness and frequent interaction with professional or people from other cultures are some of the systems that promote cultural competence.
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Cultural competence promotes equality by enhancing quality services among educators, clinicians, and researchers. Finally, cultural competence ensures there is respect to human rights thus promoting professional ethics and conduct.
Andrews, M. M., & Boyle, J. S. (2008). Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Dienemann, J. A. (1997). Cultural Diversity in Nursing: Issues, Strategies, and
Outcomes. Washington, DC: American Academy of nursing.
Giger, J., & Davidhizar, R. (1991). Transcultural Nursing. Mosby: St. Louis.