Importance of Cultural Competency in Healthcare Leadership Term Paper

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¶ … Cultural Competency in Healthcare Leadership

The United States is currently in the midst of a healthcare crisis. As less and less Americans are able to afford quality care, the time for reform is now. Nurses need to take advantage of this reformative atmosphere to implement new and innovative strategies that can help increase the quality of care on their end. Therefore, healthcare structures must answer to the needs of an incredibly diverse population, despite the various barriers against implementing such strategies. By embodying the important role of the nurse, modern nurses can implement culturally sensitive practices that would increase the quality of care for a greater breadth of Americans in need.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Importance of Cultural Competency in Healthcare Leadership Assignment

American culture has always been one of great diversity, yet this is continuing to unfold in dramatic numbers. The American population is continuing to increase in terms of its diversity. As a result, healthcare providers all over the nation are being exposed to an increased plethora of cultures and the myriad of ethnic blends that is resulting from the continuing melting pot that is American society (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2001). In order to meet the unique needs of an incredibly diverse patient population, healthcare professionals must adopt more culturally sensitive practices that will help expand the cultural competency of the modern American healthcare system. Here, the research defines the notion of cultural sensitivity in healthcare facilities; "Cultural competence in health care describes the ability of systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors, including tailoring delivery to meet patients' social, cultural and linguistic needs," (Betancourt 2002 p 5). The concept of cultural competency aims to better provide for the patients who depend on healthcare facilities and professionals. However, currently, the role of cultural sensitivity does not play as big of a role as it needs to. Strategies of healthcare that do prove to have cultural sensitivity then provide the highest quality of care to the greatest number of patients. One of the greatest developments in the field of nursing and healthcare is the drive to "understand culture and then incorporate cultural content into health services," (Sagar 2012 p X). The move towards incorporating transcultural practice within nursing and healthcare was essentially created by Madeline Leininger and her fundamental theory of culture care diversity and universality. Leininger was working on establishing culturally sensitive practice as early as the 1940s (Sagar 2012 p X). It was the work of Feininger that helped establish the modern ethnonursing model that provides nurses the knowledge and capabilities to handle a multicultural and extremely diverse world. The notion of cultural competency has evolved dramatically in the past few decades. It is beginning to be established more and more in modern practice, thus presenting a hopeful view of the future.

However, despite the discourse inferring that culturally competent practices create more effective modes of care, there are a number of barriers to culturally competent care in the United States and abroad. These barriers are hindering healthcare facilities' ability to meet the unique needs of an incredibly diverse population. One major barrier to culturally competent care is the population of healthcare professionals themselves. Essentially within the modern healthcare structure, there is a great need for a more multicultural staff population. The lack of diversity within the healthcare field limits the cultural perspectives professionals can use to create more culturally efficient strategies of care (Betancourt 2002). Essentially, the lack of diversity in many healthcare facilities then contributes to the second major barrier of culturally competent care, effective structures of care that meet a wide variety of diverse patient needs based on cultural or ethnic differences. Due to many healthcare structures having such a limited cultural perspective, communication is then difficult between care providers and patients when they do not share the same racial or cultural experiences (Betancourt 2002). Often times, medical literature regarding care procedures and other information is written in a limited lingual scope. When such discourse is only in English, those patients who do not have the highest level of English fluency will undoubtedly be at a disadvantage. This then proves to be a barrier for patients to achieve the highest quality of care possible.

Even worse, there is a lack of comprehensive standards in healthcare that advocate a more multicultural perspective (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2001). National healthcare organizations have set aside the clear need to add in more culturally sensitive value to modern healthcare strategies. Yet, because the field is so new, there are only limited structures to help those goals be achieved. Therefore, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) "undertook the development of national standards to provide a much-needed alternative to the current patchwork of independently developed definitions, practices, and requirements," (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2001 p 8). However, implementation of those standards has been unfortunately slow and difficult. The lack of structures already within the healthcare system that support these standards are essentially making it difficult to implement and maintain a more culturally sensitive healthcare environment.

It is then the role of the nurse to help the healthcare industry overcome these numerous barriers to providing more culturally sensitive healthcare practices. Here, the research suggests that "the nursing profession with its central focus on human care could play a central role to make transcultural care possible," (Sagar 2012 p X). There is a global shortage of nurses in general, and thus it is clear that helps contribute to a shortage of more diverse nursing staff in facilities across the country (Douglas et al. 2009). This creates a situation where nurses are currently being limited in their role for spreading more culturally diverse practices from within the healthcare system. Yet, the research suggests that there are a number of strategies modern nurses can take in order to play a more proactive role in creating a more culturally sensitive system. Effective nurses are essentially strong leaders. Thus, with their effective leadership, nurses can promote more culturally sensitive practices within healthcare strategies (Douglas et al. 2009). The nurse then becomes a crucial element in recreating America's healthcare system in a method to adopt more culturally competent practices.

Moreover, the nurse is at the very front of the healthcare field, and thus they are on the frontlines for the fight for providing better care for patients. In this regard, the research suggests that "nurses shall gain an understanding of the perspectives, traditions, values, practices, and family systems of culturally diverse individuals, families, communities, and populations they care for, as well as a knowledge of the complex variables that affect the achievement of health and well-being," (Douglas et al. 2009 p 258). It is the nurse's role to understand cultural differences and build a cognitive library of elements that can be used to "cross cultural knowledge and culturally sensitive skills in implementing culturally congruent nursing care," (Douglas et al. 2009 p 258). It is important for nurses to not only register cultural knowledge for their own benefit, but also to pass that knowledge on in order to help better train nurses for future generations. Nurses are both mediators between the external world and care strategies, but also generators of knowledge from the front lines (Sagar 2012). It is therefore their role to not only learn from experience in the field, but then pass along that knowledge to future nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Projections for the future would focus on linking cultural competence to the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. There are a number of ways that can be done in order to create more culturally sensitive foundations for healthcare facilities around the nation. First, hiring a more culturally diverse healthcare staff is one way that many healthcare facilities can address the gaps in the current structure. This would help diversify the workforce and present a more culturally diverse breadth of knowledge to then attack a wider range of issues experienced by a group of multicultural patients. In this regard, the research suggests that healthcare facilities should focus on "establishing programs for minority healthcare leadership development and strengthening existing programs," (Betancourt 2002 p 8). Providing sources of strength for minority leadership will not only increase the performance of culturally diverse staff, but also provide greater methods of care for a multicultural patient population.

Additionally, the staff behind the scenes of modern healthcare facilities can also contribute to the level of cultural competence seen across the country. Medical discourse is already confusing, and providing material on healthcare practices in a limited linguistic scope only further complicates the matter. Thus, the research shows that modern facilities should develop "health information for patients that is written at the appropriate literacy level and is targeted to the language and cultural norms of specific population," (Betancourt 2002 p 9). Many other public structures have already implemented this strategy with impressive results. For example, local and state registrar organizations have implemented strategies to provide voter information in a number of languages. Many states, like California,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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