Being in the nursing profession. I was raised

Being a nurse who grew up in a Filipino community and with a different cultural background, it is my professional responsibility to be aware and sensitive to the existence of cultural diversity especially in the nursing profession.


            I was raised by a devout family where everyone is Christian. They sent me to a Catholic private school to attend elementary and high school and looking back I remember being forced to attend mass every Sunday, bring my mass card to be signed by the priest and make reflections on the ‘Word of God’. Growing up in this spiritual orientation, I was unware of any other religious practices other than my own. To my impression as a child, this is the only practice existing thereby I never challenged my belief and decided to stand by it.

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            With the influence of social interactions, colonization and westernization, I also had a notion as a child that light-colored races are superior than us, brown skinned. Based on a skin color hierarchy, I thought that all Americans are white, powerful, rich and invincible and that I too should make my skin lighter. This mentality has persisted even on the modern times where Filipinos are proven to exceedingly patronize whitening products to change their natural skin color.


            Moreover, even at a young age I was also aware of the effect of social stratification on establishing economic status especially with regards to wealth, occupation and education. With the influence of the society where I grew up, I was stipulated to believe that social class was determined by income level, nature of work and the possession of distinct products such as luxury cars, branded clothing and ginormous mansions. It is also a notion that children attending private schools are affluent, and those who are in public schools are synonymous to poor. This prejudice leads people to view that certain groups or individuals are less superior than the others. As a consequence, social discrimination and stereotyping existed and generally affects self-esteem, and self-worth and well-being.


            As far as I can remember, sexual orientation and gender has always been discussed in the classroom setting. I have been aware even at an early age that differences of preference exist although bullying and discrimination is still rampant. With the popularity of social media and television personalities over the years, the population of homosexuals, bisexuals and trans-genders has increasingly grow and the spread of awareness on this issue has been widespread. Personally, having friends and family members with alternate gender expression I believe they deserve respect and acceptance despite their inclination.



In my nursing journey, I also worked in Oman,
a country in the Middle East with Islam as the dominant religious affiliation. It
is a tradition
during the month
of Ramadhan in
the Muslim culture
that they choose
to do voluntary
fasting as a
way to purify
the body and
soul. Although admitted
in the hospital,
each individual is
responsible to decide
whether or not
they will participate in
fasting which includes
no food or
drinks in a
month period from
dawn until dusk.
One mentally capable
and competent to
decide Beta Thalassemia patient
wanted to participate in
the fasting and
requested that her
deferoxamine (Desferal) infusion
to be given
after sunset. Upon
careful assessment of
the patient, her
decision was respected
based on her
own knowledge and
judgment. Although
I know that the prescribed medication is important, I also took into
consideration her culture. This is my way of ensuring that the patient received
a culturally safe care and in consequence I gained her trust.


            In order to provide culturally competent nursing care, it is my responsibility as a nurse
to be aware of my own biases and be sensitive on the differences in culture, race, gender and sexual orientation, and economic and social class. I must address ways for patients to feel respected and safe from discrimination while maintaining dignity in accessing health services especially at their most vulnerable.


In conclusion, cultural safety is an environment where people of diverse ethnic and cultural background feel spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially safe from discrimination and prejudice. It involves empowering health care providers in recognizing cultural similarities and differences, developing practical skills in addressing diversity and continuing self-evaluation.