Changing the way we teach culture to future nurses

How to Implement Cultural Diversity Education in the Nursing Classroom

In my own teaching, I have taken a new approach. Instead of teaching arbitrary facts about certain cultures, I taught students solid facts about all cultures. All cultures have power dynamics, beliefs about illness and cures, present or future perspective, expressions of illness and taboo topics. All patients must be culturally assessed by the nurse for their own unique beliefs and values ​​so that this can be considered part of patient-centered care.

Most importantly, I taught students to assess their own culture and how it affects them as future nurses. It is important to recognize and let go of their own prejudices about other cultures. This allows nursing students to address their biases before they negatively affect their patients.

Here are some ideas on how to practically implement this new way of teaching culture in nursing education:

1. Ask students to share in class

Students can share something they would want a nurse to know about their own cultural beliefs and practices if they were in their care. All the information I could have shared as a nurse educator about different cultures cannot compare to the richness of this open-ended question in the classroom. Students shared their own beliefs, practices, diets, feelings about pain, eye contact, family dynamics, religions, etc.

2. Have students do a cultural assessment of a patient

As student nurses, they don’t need facts about groups of people, they need facts about the patient they are caring for. Each individual culture has similarities, but each individual within that culture is very different. Getting to know a patient this way in school will forever be etched in their minds to know their patient this way every time they deal with a new patient.

3. Talking about our own unconscious and implicit biases as educators

We see someone different from us and BOOM, unconscious and unspoken thoughts automatically come to mind. We choose to reject or entertain these thoughts on others. It is a common human problem. We need to do something unusual about this – become aware and challenge these thoughts. Listen to our own language. Do we often say “they” when we have conversations? Who are “they” anyway? The more we expose ourselves to others who are not like us, the better we will become at doing it. We are a model for our students of the right way to see others.

4. Introduce differences within cultural groups

There is a difference that they need to know about cultures and it is called health disparities. Health disparities simply mean that not everyone has the same access to goods and services to lead a healthy life. Give statistics on cultures that lack adequate housing, adequate maternal care, or suffer from food insecurity. These statistics about circumstances affecting certain groups of people disproportionately are important to share so that our students can play a role in changing these statistics.

I’m so excited about how my own culture teaching has turned out this year! I hope you will also be excited, because you see the value of changing your culture over teaching culture.

Explore Lippincott’s solutions for nurse educators and help expose your students to a variety of real-world scenarios with Lippincott’s clinical experiences.

Helen D. Jessen