It’s called “The American Dream,” when you consider that nightmares are dreams I guess it makes sense. In the United States we push for bigger, better and more in all that we do. Everywhere we spread the “American Dream” we spread obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, technology that leads to a sedentary lifestyle and portion sizes that could feed a small family.
As I was reading about Polynesians and nursing care this week, I came across on article that references Captain Cook’s first contact with the Native Hawaiian people. He described them as healthy looking and muscular with almost no obesity. Today obesity is so common among pacific islanders that it is the norm for both men and women.
We try to spread Americanism everywhere we go. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and it is illustrated very well by the following story.
As we have studied the Asian culture this week I have thought of how important asking questions is to Nursing professionals. While it may seem easy to spot someone who has Asian heritage, its an assumption to think they all adhere to the same level of Asian medical tendencies. Its so simple to ask any individual what cultural preferences they may have regarding their medical care. Each of us as an individual chooses what level of cultural involvement we apply to our beliefs. It’s always best to ask than to make assumptions.
Something else that I learned during the week is that as many as 75-100% of all Asians are lactose intolerant. That is a very high percentage. This plays an important role in calcium deficiencies and osteoporosis. Be sure to ask each patient about this and test if necessary.
I know very little of the Jewish Orthodox faith. From the little I have researched it seems like you will need to put a lot of energy into perceiving what they want rather then having them tell you. Especially on the Sabbath when they aren’t allowed to solicit help. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie Life is Beautiful. The first time I watched I used subtitles with no sound. It was frustrating because I knew I was missing so much of the movie. I find it incredible that the father maintained such a positive spin on everything that happened to he and his son. What an amazing thing to pass on to his son. He didn’t pass on hate, injustice, or revenge. What would life be like if we didn’t pass any of those things on to our children?
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.
This week I watched the movie McFarland USA. McFarland is based on a true story of a group of high school migrant workers, who, with the help of their coach, win the 1987 California State Cross Country meet. This cross country meet was the first of its kind in 1987 and the likelihood of it being won by Hispanic migrant workers was a long shot. The movie uses several cases of humor to present ignorant stereotypes placed on Hispanics. What left the greatest impression on me is that it took effort on both sides to break down walls and accomplish something great. Cultural walls and boundaries are put up by those within a culture and those outside. Each side of a culturally diverse situation must work to break down the walls that are established and go on to accomplish something great. This is the concept that I want to carry with me into my nursing practice. To break down walls and seek to know people as individuals.
I’m usually pretty honest with myself. My wife gets upset at how honest I am with others. This post may get me in trouble.
I have been very judgement of Muslims in my life. Yes, I am sure I have been influenced by the medias portrayal of events during my 40 years. I have always been very accepting of people who are different, however, in my own mind I have never extended this courtesy to Muslims. I thought that I would be cold and judgmental towards Muslims in my nursing career.
As I read this weeks article on Muslims and Healthcare, I found that as I read, my initial thoughts of disrespect and disregard left an immediate bad taste in my mouth. I found that in my own mind I was crying out that I should treat them the way I would want to be treated. People are individuals. Muslims have a belief set like any other religion, there are those who would twist those beliefs to fit their views. This is not unique to Muslims alone. An individual is either good or bad because of who they are and the actions they take. No religion should be stereotyped and treated poorly just based on the name.
I was wrong for that in the past and have enjoyed the opportunity to understand the Muslim faith a little better.
This week we have been studying the Catholic Faith. I was raised by my mother in the Catholic faith and this week has brought back many memories. I am very grateful for the foundation of faith that my experience in the Catholic church gave me. I am also grateful for the ability to share these experiences with my own children and allow them to be a part of what I experienced as a child.
Going over some of these rituals and beliefs will help me in my nursing experience to remember how diverse patients can be. Catholic patients will be very concerned about baptizing their young children as well as administering last rights to their dying family. Regardless of my own views on these rituals they are of great importance to Catholic patients and should be respected as such.
As a paramedic I had many encounters with the homeless culture. While I don’t look at them all with the same stereotypes they had many commonalities to them. We were called out several times to incidents where some of the homeless were breaking into vacant homes for a safe place to sleep. In the winter we would transport several homeless to the hospital each shift for intoxication. This allowed them a warm place to sleep and a good meal. We spoke with many of these individuals and found that they had plenty of money each month for adequate housing but didn’t find it a priority. Some of these individuals were mentally ill but they were the minority. Regardless of our interactions with them they definitely appeared to have a strong culture among them with cultural bonds to one another and culture norms.
Looking back on my experiences with them I can say that each one was an individual with individual circumstances and views. While they shared commonalities with the other homeless it was a result of lessons learned on the streets and not a medical illness or disposition. Some of them we came to know and respect a lot for what they had faced in life. We even bought Christmas gifts and Thanksgiving dinners from year to year. It was a pleasure to be a part of some of their lives.
This week in class we researched several articles regarding the beliefs and activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prior to this week of study I thought that Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that only 144,000 people gained salvation. I learned this week that this is a matter of wording. From their own website they teach that billions will receive resurrection, they list the requirements for salvation and state that only 144,000 reach a Heavenly state where they actually live with Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. They state that this Heaven is a spirit realm. I also found it very interesting that through an interpretation of Revelations that they believe Jesus began ruling God’s kingdom in 1914.
As with other religions, I don’t understand enough about their specific beliefs to presume to know how to provide adequate and acceptable medical care to their members. I would approach these individuals with curiosity and be very direct in asking what is an appropriate level of care for them.