Reflection Paper #1 – Understanding Diversity
Diversity is the heart of life. No two people are born the same, and certainly no two develop in the same way. The nurse’s failure to celebrate this diversity, or at least understand it in a value-neutral way, disrupts the nurse-client relationship and endangers the client’s physical, psychosocial, and spiritual well-being. Rather than viewing these differences as liabilities, nurses should consider them as different aspects of wellness, as well as opportunities for expanding and improving practice.
The first step towards understanding diversity is identifying the ways in which individuals can differ. Physical differences such as weight, height, skin color, and gender have historically been the focus of the biomedical model. Variance in our genetic makeup can predispose us to certain health problems, such as breast cancer, or benefits, such as longevity. However, cultural differences, defined by Giger and Davidzhar (1990) to include language, family structure, religion, and perception of time and space, as well as biological variations, can profoundly affect the client’s response to care as well. There is very little about an individual that is not in some way affected by the culture they are exposed to, and responses to health alterations are certainly no exception.
A basic tenet of nursing is caring for the whole person, and thus noting and accommodating cultural differences must be one of the nurse’s first tasks in developing a relationship with a client. Washington (2009) notes: “Many of the concepts that identify a holistic approach to care enable the building of an authentic relationship between patient and provider (p. 499).” As nurses, building this relationship can be challenging because our approach to patients is informed by our own cultural background. This approach in turn leads to cultural conflict, “an expected development when dissimilar groups who have minimal contact...