It is difficult for me to explain what my definition of health is without presenting a scenario of an individual who is healthy. Therefore, my definition of health is a scenario of someone that does not have a disease, eats nutritious foods, and gets enough exercise every day. Furthermore, (because of these qualities) this individual would have a strong immune system. Due to it’s strength, their immune system would be able to fight off any disease that trys to attack their body. Therefore, they would never get sick. (Their good eating habits and proper amount of exercise is what helped to build their strong immune system). These are all traits of what the word health means to me presented in a scenario format.
I believe the main cause of illness is microorganisms. When I took Microbiology a year ago it really opened my eyes to how many different kinds of microorganisms there are and how harmful some of them can be. To explain, microorganisms are on every surface we touch (they’re even floating in the air). Due to this, we are constantly being exposed to microorganisms. Therefore, it is up to our immune system to fight them off so we don’t get ill, however sometimes this fighting mechanism fails. Microorganisms are so vast and diverse that our immune system can not possibly fight them all off at the same time, thus resulting in us getting sick every now and then.
Depending on what kind of symptoms I am experiencing, I use OTC products and folk remedies to manage my symptoms. These could include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Vick’s vapor rub, aloe Vera, tobacco juice, etc. However, sometimes I am not able to manage my pain to an acceptable level and therefore have to seek care. If so, I try to see a health care provider as soon as possible if it is something serious or if it is something persistent that will not go away. I have never tried to avoid the doctors office or emergency room if something is wrong but I do try and handle it myself first to avoid a doctor bill if it’s not life threatening.
When I experience pain I do not handle it very well. I often scream, cry, wince, or clench my teeth. I am not the kind to be quiet and hold it inside. I am very expressive when I am in pain. With that being said, I try to manage any pain I experience as soon as possible to avoid it getting worse. I do this by using OTC medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen or hot and cold packs.
Folk remedies my family and I use include aloe vera for sunburns and tobacco for bee stings. We use aloe Vera after receiving a sunburn to soothe our burnt and blistered skin. We believe the aloe Vera helps accelerate the healing process by removing the heat from the skin. The aloe Vera can come from the store or from the plant itself. In addition to this folk remedy, we put tobacco on bee/ wasp stings. We chew the tobacco to get it moist and then rub the juice over the spot where the sting occurred. We believe the tobacco helps the pain go away quicker.
I would describe the communication patterns in my family as very open and expressive. To enumerate, we tell each other everything and there really are not any secrets kept from each other. If something is going on, everyone will know about it so we can all come together and pray as a family and care for the ill individual or whatever else may be going on. My family is always checking on each other to see how everyone’s lives are going. Therefore, if something is not going very well or not going as planned, it will be revealed quite quickly.
Birth rituals practiced in my family include gender reveals, baby showers, and birthday parties. We have a gender reveal party when someone in our family is pregnant to reveal the gender of the baby in a fun way rather than waiting until the child is born to find out. Furthermore, we have baby showers when someone in our family is pregnant to celebrate the new addition to the family and to give baby gifts to the mother. Once the baby is born, we have birthday parties for the child every year when their birthday occurs. Aside from birth rituals, we have death rituals such as funerals and visitations. During visitation we visit with family and reminisce about our lost loved one and all the good times we had together. Following visitation is the funeral where we say our final goodbyes to our lost loved one and lay them to rest.
In my family the elderly are well cared for and respected. We do not force them to live in the nursing home if they would rather live alone; it is entirely their choice. With that being said, if it is necessary, another family member will stay with them at their house and take care of them. Furthermore, my family is constantly checking on the elderly. We do this by calling them once a day to make sure everything is ok that they do not need anything.
My spiritual beliefs do not apply to my health. I do not have any specifications of how a procedure must be done on me. Furthermore, I do not have a problem with that opposite sex being my health care provider or nurse like some individuals do. I allow the health care provider or nurse to do whatever they deem appropriate as long as it seems reasonable. I have never refused a treatment or medication that has been given to me.
The culture in which I predominantly identify is European American, which is also known as White American. My rationale behind choosing to identify with this culture is because my ancient ancestors came from Europe. I became aware of this after having a conversation with my dad about what culture we are from since I was not sure myself. He stated that his parents (my grandparents) told him that our family ancestry includes individuals that were originally from Europe. With that being said, my family ancestry began in Europe which would make my culture European American.
In addition to my family ancestry, another rationale for why I predominantly identity with European American culture is because after researching online and in my textbooks I realized that I share a lot of the same beliefs, values, and customs as this culture. To enumerate, European American culture values and beliefs include gender equality, independence, freedom, individuality, competitiveness, materialism, self reliance, and youth and beauty. (Lewis, 2017) European American culture also values and believes in being informal rather than formal, the future and change, time, achievement, and being direct with others. (Umsl. Edu) Aside from values, European American customs include supersizing every meal, getting to go boxes at restaurants, opening gifts in front of the giver, tipping, requiring personal space, chatting with strangers, smiling a lot, not following the metric system, and working all the time. (Redbookmag.com) European Americans are also big on attending sporting events and having family reunions.
Two examples of my beliefs and practices being the same as European American culture include believing in gender equality and tipping. To expand on this, I am a strong believer of gender equality. Gender equality means that “all men are created equal.” (Umsl.edu) In other words, men and women are created equal and there is no limit on what jobs or tasks a man or woman can or cannot do. I think it is silly to say that a woman cannot do the same things as a man because she is inferior or not masculine enough. I believe that a woman can do anything she sets her mind to and should not be kept from doing it. Furthermore, a woman can be strong and perform jobs that require strength just like a man can; just because she was born a female does not mean that she has no muscles or strength. In addition to gender equality, I also participate in tipping. Tipping means leaving money in addition to what is owed for the service provided when you have received exceptional service. (Redbookmag.com) I leave tips for my waiter/ waitress, and hairdresser. People also leave tips for their bartender, but I do not drink alcohol therefore I do not have the opportunity to do so. I believe that everyone should tip because waiters and waitresses in the U.S. do not make minimum wage, therefore they are dependent on tips as their main source of income ($2 and some change per hour is not enough to make a living). In fact, they expect a tip and if you do not leave one it is considered rude and inconsiderate. With that being said, I usually leave a tip that ranges anywhere from $5 to $12 depending on how good the service was.
Two examples of my beliefs and practices being different than European American culture include not participating in sporting events and not attending family reunions. In America sports are a big deal. (Interexvhange.org) Practically everyone, except a select few (with myself being one of them), participates in, attends sporting events, or watches them on T.V. I have just never been a big fan of sports, however in America a lot of individuals center their lives around sports. The most popular sports in American are football, baseball, and basketball. (InterExchange.org) My dad as well as my fiancé enjoy to watch football and baseball on T.V. every time it comes on, but I have just never been enthused by sports like they are. The rules of sports are too confusing for me to understand (especially football) and I have never played myself, therefore I am rather uninterested in them.
I do not have a favorite football team or anything of that sort either. Aside from not being a fan of sports like the rest of America, I also do not participate in family reunions. I am sure other cultures other than European Americans have family reunions, however I know they are a big deal in our culture. Family reunions are when the entire family gets together and has a party to socialize and enjoy time together. Family reunions are held because not everyone sees all of their family members as often as they would like and/or their family members live in other states or countries. My family however sees each other quite often because our family isn’t as large as some families are. Therefore, we do not see the need to host or attend family reunions. We see each other on the regular due to living in close proximity to each other. We just call or text each other when we want to meet up and set up a date and attend a small gathering instead rather than a large family gathering.
A culture that has always been interesting to me is Japanese culture. Japanese culture is very different from American culture when it comes to their values, beliefs, and customs. To explain, some of the things Japanese culture consists of is using chopsticks to eat, not blowing your nose in public, not tipping, not pointing at others, and avoiding loud conversations on the phone in public. (Oyster.com) In addition to those things, Japanese also bow instead of shaking hands when greeting someone, believe extended eye contact is disrespectful, believe silence should be included in conversations, and open gifts in private instead of in front of the giver. (Onlinepointpark.edu)
With all of that being said, there are quite a few noticeable differences between Japanese and European American cultures. However, there are two main differences between these two cultures that stood out to me. These include the Japanese customs of not blowing your nose in public and avoiding loud conversations on the phone in public. For starters, the custom of not blowing your nose in public is very different in Japanese culture than it is in American culture.to explain, In America blowing your nose in public is rather common and socially acceptable. Whereas, in Japan this is considered nasty and impolite. Therefore, Japanese do not blow their noses in public locations. Instead they wear face masks and wait until they are in a bathroom or another private place before blowing their nose. (Oyster.com)
In addition to not blowing their nose in public, Japanese also do not speak loudly on the phone while in public locations. This is Different from Japanese culture because in America it is very common to see individuals on their phone in public speaking loudly (sometimes even yelling). This is avoided in Japanese culture because they believe you should go to a more private location to speak on the phone. (Oyster.com) However, if you must answer your phone in public, it is acceptable as long as you make the conversation as brief as possible and speak quietly. (Oyster.com) In America, we could care less how loud your phone conversation is or when you answer your phone. In fact, it is common to see individuals on their phone while paying for services at the register, ordering food at a restaurant, etc. This would be heavily frowned upon in Japanese culture.
With all of that being said, due to the fact that Japanese culture is so different from European American culture, this could impact my ability to care for a Japanese patient in a non judgmental manner. Two cultural differences that could cause cultural biases are how Japanese bow instead of shaking hands when greeting someone and how Japanese do not use extended eye contact when speaking to someone. To enumerate, if I approached a Japanese patient and went to shake their hand to introduce myself to them and they refused to do so and bowed instead, this could create a cultural bias. If I was not culturally competent in Japanese culture and did not know that they bow instead of shaking hands, I might become offended by their refusal of shaking my hand.
I might begin to think that they think I am dirty and do not want to touch me, or I might think they are being disrespectful. In addition to this issue, if I was speaking to a Japanese patient and they avoided looking me in the eyes and looked at their lap or to the side instead, this could also create a cultural bias. As mentioned previously, if I was not culturally competent in Japanese culture and did not know how they normally behave in conversations, I might begin to think that they are ignoring me and refusing to listen to what I am saying. I could also begin to think that they might not want to proceed with the procedure I am explaining to them, or that they are being disrespectful like in the previous situation.
After considering how diverse different cultures are, it is easy to see how quickly cultural biases can be made. A cultural bias is a negative idea you make about another culture based off of your own culture’s beliefs, values, and/or customs. In other words, a cultural bias is made against someone from another culture because they do something differently then you and your culture. It is hard to avoid cultural biases, especially in the workplace. Therefore, it is important to use specific strategies to become culturally competent in order to avoid making cultural biases against other cultures. Two strategies that can be used to provide culturally competent health care to clients with cultural beliefs and practices different from yours include having awareness about your own culture and others, as well as being an advocate for your patient.
Being aware of your own cultural values, beliefs, and customs is one of the most important steps in providing culturally competent health care. (Nurse.org). With that being said, you should spend some time researching your own culture in order to learn about yourself before caring for others with different beliefs from your own. This will allow you to examine your own beliefs, values, and customs and become aware of your own personal biases before encountering a situation in which a cultural bias can form. (Nurse.org)
Therefore, when this occurs you have already thought about how you can react in order to avoid making a cultural bias or stereotype. In addition to being aware of your own values, beliefs, and customs, you should also spend some time researching other culture’s values, beliefs, and customs. According to nurse.com, you should “Learn more about cultural topics like gender relations, customs, nonverbal cues, religious beliefs, views on health issues, dietary restrictions and more.” By doing this, you will already be aware of certain things individuals from different cultures do or believe in before taking care of them. This will allow you to avoid making cultural biases by understanding why a patient does or believes in what they do. Aside from researching about culture’s, it is of most importance that before beginning to take care of any client, you ask them what their values, beliefs, and customs are that may affect the way you provide care for them. This will ensure that your research about their culture was credible and that you are able to avoid violating their values, beliefs, and customs.
With all of that being said, once you are aware of a patient’s values, beliefs, and cultures, it is important for you to be an advocate for them. Being an advocate for your patient means that you support their values, beliefs, and customs. By doing so, you will ensure that the care they receive from yourself as well as other members of the health care team goes along with their values, beliefs, and customs and does not violate them. Another part of being a patient advocate includes “try(ing) to see things from the patient’s perspective by considering the personal and social issues that are affecting them. As well as mak(ing) an effort to hear and understand where they’ve been and why will help you provide better care for them. You need to know where they’re coming from in order to get them where they need to be.” (Ok nursing time.com) taking all of this into consideration, Being a patient advocate will allow you to avoid stereotyping or forming cultural biases because you will be focused on supporting the patient and their wishes rather than judging them.
In conclusion, there are many different cultures in the world. Each culture is different from one another by having different values, beliefs, and customs. Therefore, it is easy to stereotype or form cultural biases about patients from other cultures because they believe in or do something different than you. Due to this, being culturally competent is an extremely important asset to being a nurse. This can be accomplished by being aware of your own as well as others values, beliefs, and customs and by being an advocate for your patients. By using these two strategies, you will be able to avoid making cultural biases and be the best nurse you can possibly be.