Being culturally aware and knowledgeable is becoming an increasingly important competency necessary for healthcare professionals. Since the nation and the world are moving towards multiculturalism and globalization, the interactions between patients and healthcare specialists are intercultural as well. Therefore, cultural awareness is an essential skill comprising cultural sensitivity, ethnicity-related intricacies, and the overall understanding of what constitutes culture.
Firstly, in order to comprehensively and accurately address the topic, it is critical to define the term culture first. It is “the customary beliefs, social norms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group, and the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a place or time” (Merriam-Webster, 2022, para. 1). In other words, culture is a collection of rules with respect to food, healthcare, religion, spirituality, society, education, occupation, family, and childcare. Secondly, cultural awareness requires one to have the ability to distinguish between race and ethnicity. In the US, the major ethnic groups are Native Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, Hispanic Americans, European Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans. Ethnicity is more specific and closely reflective of cultural background than racial categorization. Thirdly, cultural awareness mandates respect, which is achieved by being more sensitive toward other cultural backgrounds.
In conclusion, cultural awareness is an important skill to master in order to improve one’s competency and professionalism in healthcare achieved through cultural sensitivity, ethnicity-related intricacies, and the overall understanding of what constitutes culture. Culture is a set of beliefs, norms, and values, whereas ethnicity is a more culturally aware system of classification. Being respectful towards other cultures requires sensitivity to other cultural characteristics enabled through appreciation and recognition of unique elements.
Merriam-Webster. (2022). Culture. Web.