As we studied the Native American culture this week I learned something very important. I have heard throughout my life not to judge a book by its cover. This was illustrated very well in an article I read on Native Americans. The article said that someone might look like an American Indian and not participate in the culture at all, and there might be someone who is blond hair and blue eyed who is fully immersed in the Native American Culture.
The most important thing we can do as clinicians is to ask our patients questions. Not only our medical questions but personal questions about who they are and what they believe regarding their own healthcare. Yes, they have come to us to help solve their medical problems, but they may have some strong beliefs about how they would like us to go about doing just that. We need to ask.
We had an assignment this week to watch a movie with no sound, only subtitles. It was an extremely difficult assignment. I had never seen the movie before and I knew I was missing out on so much emotion and feeling from not being able to hear the music, expressions, tones and other noises I take for granted everyday. This was a great assignment to demonstrate to me how it feels to be in a minority culture. I felt like I was missing so much that I knew was there. I’m sure there are far more set backs from being deaf than just having to read subtitles, but this assignment was very effective.
While the assignment was specific to the Deaf culture it can be applied to any culture. As a nurse it will be extremely important to be sensitive to the needs of my patients. This really demonstrated the need for me to also be culturally sensitive as well! I need to be pro-active in recognizing when my patients are missing something. Whether that be a language barrier, a medical understanding of what is going on with their care, and most importantly, my attention. If my attention is somewhere else then they aren’t receiving the care that they need to heal properly.