Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Giving Voice: Incorporating the Wisdom of Hispanic Rns into Practice

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Giving Voice: Incorporating the Wisdom of Hispanic Rns into Practice

Article excerpt

Abstract: This study used Heideggerian phenomenology to: 1) explore professional practice values and ethical concerns of Hispanic nurses practicing in the Pacific Northwest; and 2) describe values conflicts experienced by Hispanic nurses in clinical practice. Twenty-seven Hispanic nurses were interviewed about nursing practice experiences. Themes included: obligation to serve the Hispanic community; correct cultural mistakes; teach about racism and discrimination; protect professional relationships; act as interpreter and cultural broker; balance additional workload; and represent all Hispanic nurses. Recommendations are included for creating an inclusive work environment that values the wisdom of diverse communities of nurses consistent with ICN Code of Ethics.

Key Words: Hispanic Nurses, Wisdom of, Nursing Practice, Cultural Diversity

"In providing care, the nurse promotes an environment in which the human rights, values, customs, and spiritual beliefs of the individual, family, and community are respected' International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics (ICN, 2005)

The purpose of this paper is to describe findings from a hermeneutic study developed to gain cultural understanding about nursing practice from the perspective of Hispanic nurses in the Pacific Northwest. This topic is relevant in the multicultural and global health care environment in order to incorporate the voices that represent the richness of the diverse communities that nurses serve into the development of a more inclusive nursing paradigm. Giving voice to the perspectives of the study participants is especially important because the number of minority nurses is so disproportionately represented in nursing and the health professions. Additionally, these findings explicate values that are exemplars of promising practices that are congruent with the International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics (ICN, 2005).

The Hispanic population in the United States and the Pacific Northwest has been steadily increasing. In the U.S., Hispanics account for 14.8 % of the overall population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). In 2006, it was estimated that Hispanics comprised 10.2% of the population in Oregon and 9.1% in Washington State (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). In addition, the Pew Hispanic Center (Passel, 2006) projected that there were 175,000 undocumented workers in Oregon and 350,000 in Washington, leading demographers to suggest that demographic shifts may not be accurately reflected by the census data.

Within the nursing profession, Hispanics are underrepresented, accounting for 1.7% of registered nurses (RNs); yet Hispanics account for 10.7% of the overall population (Health Resources and Services Administration, 2004). In Oregon, where Hispanics account for slightly over 10% of the state's population, only 1 % of the RNs are of Hispanic origin (Oregon State Board of Nursing, 2002). Statistics for Washington RNs ethnicity remain unavailable (Ellis, 2007). Several factors prevent Hispanics from choosing nursing as a career, including barriers to higher education, cultural beliefs about women leaving the home for school or work, and perceptions among Hispanics about nursing and nursing work (Doutrich, Wros, Valdez, & Ruiz, 2005).

Of primary significance is the incongruence of values that arise for Hispanic students in nursing education and that may continue in practice. These values conflicts not only affect recruitment and retention of Hispanics into nursing, but may also impact the healthcare environment for nurses in general, other healthcare workers, and clients alike. The increasing Hispanic population has significant implications for healthcare. There is an acute need for culturally competent caregivers, including those who are bilingual and bicultural. Workforce diversity and the ability of healthcare professionals to communicate and practice interculturally are prerequisite to effective healthcare. Nurses require new knowledge and an expanded skill set to effectively address the dynamics of difference at the bedside, within agencies, and in the development of healthcare policy. …

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