Cultural awareness affects the way nurses provide care.
In an ever-changing global world, nurses and future nurses must understand the relevance of culture in shaping quality of care and influencing patient and family experiences.
People often say nurses make a difference in the world. But how do you make a global difference if you are unfamiliar with cultures other than your own? Being knowledgeable about a variety of cultures helps nurses provide culturally competent and equitable care to those they serve. Providing culturally competent and safe nursing care is the cornerstone of my career as a nurse educator.
My journey to becoming a nursing educator has not been linear, but it has been very rewarding. I was born and raised in beautiful Québec City, Québec, Canada. I entered the nursing profession as a bedside registered nurse and practiced more than 14 years in general surgery, otorhinolaryngology, head and neck surgery, urology, and gynecology. As I moved from novice to expert, I yearned to increase my knowledge of nursing.
Culture and the delivery of nursing care
I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees from Laval University. An undergraduate course in anthropology and health sharpened my desire to know more about culture and how it influences delivery of nursing care. I completed my PhD in nursing from the University of British Columbia. Preparing my dissertation, which I titled “The meaning of home care and caring for aging relatives at home: The Haitian Canadian primary caregivers’ perspectives,” helped me understand that caring is enmeshed in a complex nexus of social relations where power, race, gender, and social class permeate each level of that commitment.
After completing my doctoral degree, I started my nurse educator career at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and later became an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing, located in Saskatoon. In 2016, I was promoted to full professor. My peer-funded nursing research focuses on immigrant and refugee health, specifically delivery of culturally competent and safe nursing care to vulnerable populations.
I am keenly interested in developing a philosophy of nursing that applies feminist and postcolonial theories to nursing research, practice, and education, drawing upon all types of ethnographies as well as critical discourse analysis. I use both qualitative and mixed methods to inform my research (Racine, 2003). My findings, published in nursing and health science journals, underline the need for nurses to be culturally competent. Cultural awareness affects the way nurses provide care to individuals, families, and communities.
When healthcare professions conflict
In addition to my interest in promoting cultural nursing care with regard to ethnicity, etc., I am interested in exploring the culture of interprofessional education. Powerful and sometimes conflicting cultures influence relationships between nurses and other healthcare professions. To achieve patient- and family-centered care, nurses need to develop and implement education and practice frameworks that foster effective interprofessional relationships.
More than ever, healthcare must respond to contemporary local and global health challenges. My research with Hope Bilinski, PhD, RN, of the University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing explores barriers and challenges to interprofessional education and practice in undergraduate health education. There is still work to do in this area. Individual, professional, and organizational challenges presently preclude full collaboration.
As a nurse educator who teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, I believe the classroom is the best place to advocate for cultural competency and safety. In this ever-changing global world, nurses and future nurses must understand the relevance of culture in shaping quality of care and influencing patient and family experiences.
Cultural safety is an enduring challenge in nursing (Racine, 2014). Racial and ethnic insensitivities can become pitfalls in healthcare delivery. In their everyday practice, nurses occupy a privileged social and professional space that, if navigated with cultural competency, can promote safety.
As a nurse educator, my mission is to teach nurses to provide culturally competent and safe nursing care. Nurses can address issues of health inequities and advocate for practice and policy changes that promote justice. Part of my nurse educator task is to sensitize students to the need for cultural awareness, support them in acquiring that awareness, and help them learn to respect and understand cultural diversity.
I remain committed to applying and advancing the anthropological and nursing knowledge that captured my attention during my undergraduate education. Mentored by outstanding scholars associated with Laval University, the University of British Columbia, and the Transcultural Nursing Society, I continue to develop and advance ideas about how culture influences healthcare delivery and how the scientific and social mission of nursing can help meet the needs of vulnerable populations. RNL
Louise Racine, PhD, RN, TCNS, is professor, University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and president of the Canadian Association for Nursing Research. In 2011, she received the Edith Anderson Leadership in Education Award from Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma). In 2017, the Transcultural Nursing Society inducted her as a transcultural nursing scholar, one of three Canadians thus honored. She has received five grants to further her research on immigrant, refugee, and indigenous people’s health. Sigma and the Canadian Nurses Foundation jointly awarded one of those grants.
Editor’s note: Louise Racine will present a session titled “Establishing Evidence-Based Faculty Development Strategies to Enhance Implementation of IPE in Nursing” on Saturday, 21 April, at Nursing Education Research Conference 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Check out these additional articles by presenters at Nursing Education Research Conference 2018.
Racine, L. (2003). Implementing a postcolonial feminist perspective in nursing research related to non-Western populations. Nursing Inquiry, 10(2), 91–102.
Racine, L. (2014). The enduring challenge of cultural safety in nursing. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 46(2), 6–9.