Healthcare providers have a responsibility to provide culturally competent care to patients from diverse backgrounds. In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on educating healthcare professionals about the importance of cultural competence and cultural humility in delivering quality care (Yeager & Bauer-Wu, 2013). While these concepts are similar, they have different goals and outcomes.
Cultural humility is a lifelong process that involves self-reflection, critique, and a commitment to learning about not only someone else’s culture and cultural needs but also one’s own personal beliefs and identity (Yeager & Bauer-Wu, 2013). Unlike cultural competence, which focuses on acquiring knowledge and skills to effectively interact with patients from different cultures, cultural humility goes beyond this by emphasizing self-examination and the recognition of personal biases, beliefs, and values.
When incorporating cultural humility into care, healthcare professionals must approach patients with openness and a readiness to learn. This means not making assumptions and recognizing that individualized care can be achieved through understanding and respecting the unique cultural backgrounds of each patient. Three attributes that are emphasized in cultural humility are self-awareness, humbleness, and openness.
Openness is an essential component of developing cultural humility and involves being receptive to exploring and learning new ideas (Foronda et al., 2016). Healthcare providers should be open to understanding different cultural perspectives and practices and be willing to adapt their care accordingly.
Humbleness, on the other hand, entails acknowledging the equality of all humans and recognizing that no person is superior to another (Foronda et al., 2016). When healthcare providers approach interactions with humility, they set aside their personal beliefs and avoid asserting superiority or dominance over others.
Self-awareness is another crucial attribute in practicing cultural humility. It involves recognizing one’s own values, beliefs, strengths, limitations, and how one’s views may be perceived by others (Foronda et al., 2016). By understanding the scope of diversity and acknowledging one’s own biases, healthcare professionals can deliver individualized and quality care that aligns with the cultural needs and preferences of their patients.
It is important for healthcare professionals to continuously reflect on their interactions and seek ways to improve their practice and communication skills. By doing so, they not only provide the best individualized and culturally acceptable care but also foster strong nurse-patient relationships and enhance their own knowledge base and skills, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.
In conclusion, cultural competence and cultural humility are both critical aspects of providing healthcare to a diverse population. However, cultural humility goes beyond cultural competence by emphasizing self-reflection, self-awareness, and a commitment to lifelong learning. By incorporating cultural humility into care, healthcare professionals can deliver individualized and culturally appropriate care, improve patient outcomes, and foster stronger nurse-patient relationships.