An Innovative Approach for Affirming Cultural Diversity among Baccalaureate Nursing Students and Faculty

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Abstract: "Cultural Diversity" has become the buzz word of the nineties. The United States has become the most culturally diverse nation in the world. Since there is no arena where cuttural diversity is more critical than health care, it is imperative that nursing students and faculty become comfortable with the issues surrounding the delivery of culturally competent care. The University of Southern Mississippi has developed an innovative program with a dual purpose: (a) to provide an environment of mutual understanding and respect for people of different cultures; and (b) to provide a comfortable environment where minority students can be valued and nurtured.

Key Words: Multicultural; Denial; Color Blind Perspective; Aversive Racism; Cultural Diversity of Nursing Students

Cultural diversity" has become the "in" phrase of the nineties. It is not only fashionable but very politically correct to talk about cultural diversity. an professional disciplines are struggling to have a workforce that not only reflects cultural diversity in its membership, but also in the products and services offered. So we ask ourselves: (a) What does it all mean? and (b) Why is it important? The purpose of this paper is to examine the issues related to cultural diversity and how they affect nursing practice and education. The strategies one college of nursing has developed to confront the issues are described.

The United States is the most culturally diverse nation in the world. In fact, Time magazine has designated the U.S. as "The First Universal Nation" (Grossman, 1994). Immigrants from every corner of the globe have made their way here for generations. Many came to seek new opportunities in the new world, others came to escape poverty or oppression, and still others came unwillingly to serve the needs of others. The descendants of these immigrants now share this great land with new immigrants and with the native peoples. However, there has been a long history of misunderstanding and intolerance. The survival of our nation depends on at least tolerance and preferably understanding and appreciation among all cultures and ethnic groups.

Ethnic minority groups comprise nearly 25% of the total U.S. population, including 12% AfricanAmericans, 9%SO Hispanics, and 2.9% Asians. During the decade of the 80's, the U.S. Hispanic population rose by 53%, the Native American population by 38%, and the Asian population by 108% (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1992). A record 19.8 million Americans, representing 8% of the population, were born in other countries; and approximately 32 million Americans speak languages other than English in their homes (Grossman, 1994). By the year 2000, it is expected that one in three Americans will be a member of a minority group (Campinha-Bacote, Yahle, & Langenkamp,1996; Grossman,1994). Clearly the term "minority" is outdated and inappropriate. A more appropriate description for the group of Americans known as "people of color" is the "emerging majority" (ANA, 1993).

There are no arenas where cultural diversity and understanding are more critical than health care, more specifically nursing. Providing culturally competent care should be one of the highest priorities of the nursing profession in planning for health care in a multicultural society. The American Academy of Nursing defines culturally competent care as care that is sensitive to issues related to culture, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Ideally, nurses should utilize cross cultural nursing theory, models, and research to identify health care needs and to provide and evaluate care (Davis et al., 1992). Recognizing cultural diversity, inte rating cultural knowledge, and acting in a culturally appropriate manner enables nurses to be more effective in initiating nursing assessments and serving as patient advocates (ANA, 1991). While increased cultural and racial sensitivity does not guarantee improved care for culturally diverse racial groups, it does give nurses the conscious option and support to provide a highly sensitive level of care (Malone, 1993). …