Expanding conceptualizations of culturally competent care


Mary Canales, School of Nursing, University of Vermont, Rowell Building, Room 216, Burlington, VT 05405-0068, USA. E-mail: mcanales@zoo.uvm.edu


Expanding conceptualizations of culturally competent care

Aim. The aim of the study was to gain an understanding of cultural competence from the perspectives of non-mainstream nurse educators, specifically those of Latin heritage.

Background/Rationale. Although the theoretical concepts of ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘culturally competent care’ have been supported and promoted by the largest professional nursing organizations, the practical application of these concepts has often created difficulties for nurse researchers, educators, and clinicians. The lack of progress in teaching and evaluating cultural competence suggested the need to ‘center the margins’ and explore cultural competence from the margins of one particular non-mainstream nursing group, Latina nurse educators.

Design/Methods. A grounded theory research design was employed. A group of 10 doctoral, prepared, self-identified, Latina nurse educators participated in face- to-face audiotaped interviews. Data collection, analysis, and theoretical sampling decisions occurred concurrently, strengthening theory generation. Institutional review board approval was received for all steps of the study. The major limitation of the study was the omission of student voices.

Results/Findings. The analysis suggests that the Latina participants shared the common purpose of teaching students how to think about difference. The teaching practices of this group of Latina educators was based on a belief that ‘difference’ is not solely about specific cultural groups. For example, content about ‘Hmongs’ or ‘Latinos’. Rather, Latina faculty focused on teaching students how to directly connect with anyone perceived as different from oneself.

Conclusions: Latina faculty did not distinguish between competent care and culturally competent care; for them, competence necessarily includes cultural competence. They conceptualize the provision of competent care to all persons who are perceived as different, rather than focusing only on those who are perceived as ‘culturally’ different. These conceptualizations have the potential to shed new light on how nurses and nurse educators think about, develop, and integrate cultural competence into nursing education, practice, and research.