In our day to day job as nurses, we come across patients from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is our duty to make them feel at ease with the care they are receiving and to be able to do so, it is imperative that nurses become culturally competent by understanding how the patients’ culture influences their views on health protection, maintenance and restoration. Culture is a pattern of behavior and values shared by an ethnic group (Winkleman, 2001). The Heritage Assessment Tool (HAT) is a guide to understanding the individual’s cultural beliefs in relationship to the biological, social, environmental, spiritual and psychological factors that influence their acceptance and adherence to treatment plan. Cultural heritage is a set of traditions within a culture that is handed down from the older to the younger generation within a family. These traditions influence the family’s decision in relation to their diet, education, day-to-day activities, spiritual beliefs (Christianity, Judaism, Islam or non believers) as well as health traditions. In our household, we raise our children based on our religious and cultural beliefs even though they were born here in the United States. We speak our native language to them on an ongoing basis to ensure that they can communicate with our relatives when we visit them. They eat our traditional food and wear the ethnic clothes. Family is very important to us and to maintain strong family ties we talk to our family members regularly and visit them at least once every year. As Catholics we attend mass every Sunday. The Heritage Assessment Tool I took showed me how similar my cultural norms are to those of my parents despite the fact that I have lived in United States for nineteen years. I interviewed three different families from three different ethnic backgrounds, Mexico, China and Nigeria addressing their cultural health protection, maintenance and restoration: The Mercado Family: Maria Mercado...
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