Implementing the Multicultural Education Perspective into the Nursing Education Curriculum

Article excerpt

Nurse educators are faced with the challenge of implementing educational programs that value the diversity of students and that positively portray this diversity at the same time meeting the overall goals of the institutions. The literature has shown that with the implementation of this concept, the curriculum and instruction will be changed to produce an awareness, acceptance, and affirmation of cultural diversity. This article was written to provide nurse educators with strategies for implementing the multicultural concept into their nursing programs. An outline of essential knowledge, a guideline for critiquing a nursing education program, theory, justification for the approach will be presented.


Educational institutions play a major role in shaping the attitudes and beliefs of the youth in the nation. The overall goal of these institutions is to prepare each generation to assume the obligations and responsibilities of a productive citizen. Today's school population represents a multicultural group. These people come from different ethnic backgrounds, classes, religions, and native languages. Educators are, therefore, faced with the challenge of implementing educational programs that values this diversity and that positively portray that diversity at the same time meeting the overall goals of their institutions.

Probably the most significant change in higher education during the past several decades has been the dramatic change in the composition of college students (Levine & Cureton, 1998). A recent survey by the U.S. Department of Education (1996) indicated that fewer than 16% of undergraduates conform to the conventional image of a full time student, 19 to 22 years old, and living on campus. In addition, these significant changes in student demographics have been mirrored by changes that are occurring in the broader culture. For example, W. C. Sue and D. Sue (1999) reported that more than one third of the current American populations consist of ethnic minorities, and projections indicate that the United States will have a majority minority culture sometime between 2003 and 2005.

The dramatic changes in the composition of college students should dictate a significant change in how universities/colleges and schools &nursing approach higher education. Traditionally, education programs have been guided by the principles of middle-class white segment of our society and have been aimed at helping prospective students to function effectively within that group. These institutions must be willing to explore and to implement the multicultural education perspective into their programs. Santrock (2001) defines the multicultural education as "education that values diversity and includes the perspectives of a variety of cultural groups on a regular basis" (p. 171). However, institutions have been reluctant in implementing this approach to education. Wuest (1992) identified two major explanations for this reluctancy to move more aggressively in implementing the multicultural approach to nursing education from the literature. She deduced the following reasons: (1) nurse educators often lack the preparation and knowledge base required to include theory and experience in this field, and (2) the school's location has an influence on the opportunity to practice transcultural nursing and to see it in operation by experience nurses.

In facilitating the progress of society from one of cultural singularism to one of cultural pluralism, administrators and faculty must provide leadership of individuals commitment to a social system where individual worth and dignity are fundamental tenants; thus, requiring nursing school administrators to design their total educational process and educational content to reflect a commitment to cultural pluralism. The task of achieving this goal is difficult, but not impossible. The challenge lies in the attitudes of" the people toward the value of culturally diverse society. …