In the article, “Cultural Diversity in Nursing Education: Perils, Pitfalls, and Pearls,” Hedi Bednarz, Stephanie Schim, and Ardith Doorebos analyze challenges teachers face, students face, and solutions to these challenges in contemporary classrooms made up of students from all walks of life. The authors note that, unlike traditional classrooms, modern nursing classrooms have unique concerns for the teachers and the students. The authors identify these concerns that arise from different perspectives and merits within the nursing institutions, integrated approaches to diverse education, and analyze critical items related to student demographics, faculty workload, culture, and human nature. They also identify ways to improve the effectiveness of teaching students in diverse classrooms. The authors categorize the article in three ways; “perils” as issues, “pitfalls” as barriers, and “pearls” as strategies.
The authors define perils as issues that challenge the effectiveness of educators when approaching diverse teaching. According to the authors, the major problems in nursing classrooms are discrimination and fairness. Discrimination and unfairness are attitudes that need to be looked into, especially during the initial phase of nurse training for diverse students. The authors argue that it is common for diverse students to be unconsciously perceived as incompetent in nursing classrooms. Additionally, the authors claim that cultural days where students display different cultures through food and attire and hold meetings afterward are no wrong ways to approach student diversity. However, this approach does not help identify barriers or suggest appropriate solutions to improve challenges faced by diverse students.
According to the authors, pitfalls, also referred to as barriers, enclose most diversity students face in nursing classrooms. These barriers include culture, human nature, and education. The authors state that cross-cultural communication is a significant challenge when student diversity is involved. Without communication, students and teachers would have difficulty understanding each other. Students are from different cultures in diverse classrooms, and English is their second or additional language. The authors mention a few examples of these challenges.
An example is a group of culturally diverse students who were about to complete their second surgical in the United States had difficulties deciphering and understanding abbreviations in medical notes. They also mention a Chinese student who did not have proficiency despite attending theory and practice lessons for weeks. The authors rationalize that students from different social levels, communities, and education systems have difficulty communicating with fellow students, faculty, and other healthcare team members due to the diverse nature of professional and technical language in nursing.
Besides cross-cultural communication, the authors state gender, age, additional responsibilities, and preparation for advanced academic work as other challenges. According to the authors, men have recently joined the nursing profession that young women traditionally attended. Therefore differences in ethnic, cultural, and religious traditions between men and women are conjoined with specific role expectations. Additionally, diverse patients have gender-specific expectations concerning caregivers. The authors also mention that nursing classrooms have older students with responsibilities such as family. Despite getting scholarships for their nursing education, these students maintain their day jobs and take part in their families’ lives, leaving less time to study. Additionally, students from different age groups have different sets of values, ideas, cultures, and ethics, impacting how they interact with teachers. Lastly, the authors mention that most beginner nursing students lack basic academic skills such as reading and studying despite excellent grades from their secondary education.
The authors define pearls as strategies teachers can apply to expand success with culturally diverse learners, such as culturally congruent nursing education and personal cultural competence among Educators. They define culturally congruent care as “behaviors or decisions that are designed to fit with cultural values to provide meaningful, beneficial, and satisfying health care” (Bednarz et al., 2010). According to the authors, congruent care is a better fit between educator–provider variables considering perils and pitfalls stated.
The authors claim that cultural competence is a process that changes depending on the scope and depth of personal and cumulative occurrences of cultural diversity. This strategy involves nursing educators’ continuous quest for excellence through personal efforts to enlarge the breadth and depth of cultural competence (Bednarz et al., 2010). According to the authors, the process is “time specific, place-specific and lifelong” (Bednarz et al., 2010). To make this strategy a success, the authors rationalize that educators need to focus on knowing themselves, thinking globally, acting locally, finding key concepts, and listening and learning.
According to the authors, the educator can know themselves by examining one’s cultural history and background in conjunction with those of their current location, including educational and clinical. Thinking globally means understanding similarities and differences that occur among diverse students. Acting locally means understanding individual student behavior since they vary from one generation to the other. Educators must realize discrimination in American society and how they apply to various learner backgrounds to find critical concepts. Lastly, educators need to diversify their way of teaching since they are dealing with diverse adult learners by coming up with creative ways to teach that will accommodate different styles of learning. The students and educators will be more energized during their learning period.
In summary, the article notes that discrimination and unfairness challenge the effectiveness of teachers among diverse groups of learners. Additionally, barriers such as cross-cultural communication, age and responsibilities, gender, and lack of preparation for advanced academic work, impact cultural diversity in nursing education. According to the authors, these issues rely heavily on the educators’ unique cultural competence and Culturally Congruent Nursing Education. They conclude that a client-centered model is heavily reliant on student nurturing which is the responsibility of nursing educators.
Bednarz, H., Schim, S., & Doorenbos, A. (2010). Cultural diversity in nursing education: Perils,
pitfalls, and pearls. Journal of nursing education, 49(5), 253-260.