Today, nurses see the world in all its forms from a different place and through a different perspective. The nursing profession is no stranger to diversity, as its natural and inherent up close and personal contact with people from all walks of life ethnically, nationally, and racially enables them to see people for who they really are. Diversity is one of the most discussed issues in business, as it allows people to understand and bridge communication gaps better, it increases creativity and it stimulates innovation because of differences in perspectives, thoughts and approaches (Joseph & Devanesan). Problems in diversity in nursing, namely a lack of diversity, has the potential to harm patients and create larger social problems. There are racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in healthcare that disproportionately affect minority and marginalized groups within the healthcare system.
For example, the Health Professionals for Diversity Coalition found that Hispanics and African Americans face high discrepancies with their white counterparts when it comes to hospital waiting times, breast cancer mortality rates, diabetes mortality rates, etc. (Scherman, 2017). In healthcare, most professionals, nurses included, are only exposed to diversity practices and principles as a part of their academic studies or in practice for the job, yet it must be fully integrated into a person’s psyche and culture for there to be full understanding.
Social practices in healthcare that have minimized the pain of minorities, prevented screenings and care for those who are not at risk of certain genetic diseases, and other problems in healthcare can be ameliorated through understanding people, what it means to be diverse, and having a culture that enables the behavior and operations of nurses to align with holistic, patient-centered care. There is a serious lack of cultural competency that will not and cannot be fixed through diversity as something that is only a business initiative. Providers and healthcare professionals must be culturally competent as the world becomes more diverse. Diversity, however, is about more than just race and gender and the Four Lenses explains that, basing people’s knowledge and awareness on temperament and personalities. Grouped by colors—blue, gold, green and orange—the Four Lenses Assessment identifies those temperaments and their inherent ability to empathize, communicate, connect with others, interpret interactions and deal with conflict. High green approaches conflict civilly and factually; high blue stays away from personal attacks and validates feelings; high gold is courteous and polite; and high orange lightens the mood and releases tension.
Problems in diversity have changed the operations and behaviors of nurses by forcing them to become and remain committed to being emotionally strong and culturally competent. To ignore the realities of racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in healthcare would be remiss given that the statistics show that for some, healthcare is unattainable and even when attainable, the standards are different than that of their counterparts. Improving nurses’ behaviors and practices ultimately improves patient outcomes and doing so in terms of diversity means having that direct engagement with patients of other cultures, which allows nurses to explore beliefs, values and needs that may influence treatment and care.
This also allows them to build effective relationships with patients, which is crucial for trust, a factor which is also crucial for effective treatment methods. Nurses must have the ability and willingness to deliver such culturally aware and competent services in any facility in which they serve. They must understand differences in patients that come from norms, practices and cultural values that impact how they see medical care and how they want it for themselves. Culturally competent care contributes to the elimination of these health disparities.
- Joseph, C., & Devanesan, R. (n.d.). Why a Lens on Diversity is one of the Most Critical Skills for Tomorrow’s Impact Professionals. Retrieved November 8, 2018, from https://www.netimpact.org/blog/why-a-lens-on-diversity-is-one-of-the-most-critical-skills-for-tomorrow’s-impact-professionals
- Scherman, J. (2017, April 6). Is a Lack of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare Harming Our Patients? Retrieved November 8, 2018, from https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/lack-of-cultural-diversity-in-healthcare/