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Ethnocentrism

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Topics: Nursing
Introduction
The term ethnocentrism is explained by Stanmore and Lancaster (1993) as “the belief that one’s own group or culture determines the standards, values, behaviours and principles by which all other groups are to be judged”(p. 35). This term ethnocentrism helps us to acknowledge “difference” as been acceptable and educating. In this essay I will explain why it is important for registered nurses to understand the impact that ethnocentrism may have on the delivery of nursing services. I will then further discuss an area in the health field, in which I think ethnocentrism is not been understood adequately resulting in part of our New Zealand culture been left feeling inferior to others and even unaccepted, these been; understanding personal health and illness and cultural difference.
Personal health and Illness
“Health and illness- the understanding of appropriate health care may vary over time and across cultures” (John Germov, 2009, p. 136). Many ethnic groups understand and experience illness differently and have their own ways of managing illness. These may include using remedies they believe in, such as spiritual, organic, holistic or medical remedies. A nurse practicing in a situation where a client denies a prescribed remedy (a drug), as it would interfere with their cultural and/or personal values or beliefs, the nurse would accept the patients decision - as would all nurses practicing accordingly to the competencies of registered nurses (2007) guide, “in a manner that the client determines as been culturally safe”( p 13). When a nurse practices in this way they would, as Anderson & Macfarlane (2011) explains, be practicing with “cultural competence”, “Cultural competence is having the ability to express an awareness of one’s own culture, to recognise the differences between ones-self and others, and to adapt behaviours to appreciate and accommodate the differences of others” (p 112). When nurses are practicing it is important for them in acknowledge their patients way of life and their belief of health and illness as everyone is different.
Cultural difference
Cultural dissimilarity connecting individuals is frequently viewed as a obstacle of an effective relationship - which is why nurses must bring, determination and commitment to be diverse in thinking and in their performance, to the profession. Like in all health professions, this described by Anderson & Macfarlane (2011) “the most challenging tasks are understanding the dynamics of difference in the helping process and adapting practice skills to fit the client’s cultural context” (p 112) a nurse too, must carefully adapt to environments in which may be unfamiliar to the nurse practicing. To successfully accept and adapt to differences, it helps if all nurses are aware of the “competencies for registered nurses” which are put in place to regulate nursing practice and to protect personal safety of the nurse and the client. A hospital is a place and will remain a place that will continue to present multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds that share the same need for professional “ethnocentric” health care from nursing professionals, in New Zealand and abroad.
Conclusion
In summary, nurses acting in an “ethnocentric” manner would show respect and understanding to clients and their ways of life, whether these ways are what they are use to and understand or not. It is important for a nurse to treat each and every client the same, in order to construct a professional and understanding relationship to achieve the best service the client deserves. According to Germov (2009), Nurses that deliver ethnocentric professional care are brokers of three cultures; their own, the health care system and the client (p 133), and that is exactly what is expected of a registered nurse in New Zealand.

Reference List
Anderson, E.T. and McFarlane, J.M.(2011). Community as a Partner. Theory and Practice in Nursing. Sixth edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia.

Nies, M. A. and McEwen, M. (2001). Community/Public Health Nursing. Promoting the Health of Populations. Forth Edition. Saunders Elsevier Inc. Canada.

Germov, J. (2009). Second Opinion: an introduction to health sociology. Second edition. Oxford University press. Oxford. New York.

Pierce, B. (2003). Incorporating cultural diversity in nursing care: an action plan. 13: 178-180. doi: 10.1177/10459602013003002

Nursing Council of New Zealand. (2009). Competencies for registered nurses. Wellington. New Zealand.

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