Developing Awareness

Maggie Convey

It is important that nurses seek to improve their ability to provide culturally safe and holistic care. In order to do this, nurses and student nurses must first unpack the assumptions, biases, and beliefs about others’ cultures, as well as seek to understand their own culture. It is important to assess to what degree you may engage in the following fallacies of thinking:

Ethnocentrism is defined as the belief that one’s own culture is superior to others, and should be the norm. This can easily be seen in the medical community, where there is a focus on western medicine as inherently ‘right’ and other ways of approaching illness, disease, and disability as wrong.  When individuals fail to respect the value of other cultures or assume that one culture is superior to another, there is a chance of prejudice and stereotypes.

Prejudice is a set of attitudes held by one person or a group about another person or group, which casts the other in an inferior light despite the absence of a legitimate or sufficient evidence. Prejudice can be directed to an individual associated with a particular group, or toward a group as a whole. Prejudices are a result of stereotypes, assumptions, and biases.

Stereotypes are a generalized conception of a group of people, which results in the unconscious or conscious categorization of each member of that group, without regard for individual differences.

Over your education, there will also be discussions about racism and systemic racism as they both relate to the practice of nursing.

Racism is an attitude as well as specific actions through which one group exercises power over others on the basis of skin color and racial heritage. The effect is to marginalize and oppress some people and to sustain advantages for people of certain social groups.

Systemic racism are policies, practices, and procedures that are considered normal that can discriminate against individuals or groups.


The key values inherent in developing cultural competence in your practice include:

  1. Inclusivity
  2. Respect
  3. Valuing differences
  4. Equity
  5. Commitment

About the author


Foundations for Success in Nursing: Manual Copyright © 2021 by Maggie Convey. All Rights Reserved.

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