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Did you know that the origin of the term culture was specific to cultivating the land to promote growth? In this issue of Nursing for Women's Health you'll find articles that deal with another use of the term—namely, caring for women from different cultures or groups. Yet on the most basic level perhaps this, too, refers to promoting growth. The information contained in this issue's CNE article by Guimond and Salman and in the “Beyond Borders” column by Fritz and McGregor about women from groups other than our own helps us all grow personally and professionally.

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A friend of mine recently told me about returning to her hometown, a small spot in a small Midwestern state. She remembers growing up in a homogenous population, full of white farmers and families who had been living from the land for several generations. But after several years she returned to find some eye-opening changes, at least to her. A meatpacking plant had been opened and many new families had moved into the town. Some families were Jewish and recently arrived from Russia. They brought with them the customs of bath houses, including the mikveh bath for women after menstruation. My friend noted that the bath house was full of female camaraderie, rivaled only by local stores and restaurants frequented by women who came to the town with their families from Mexico. Those stores included some specializing in dresses for quinceañeras, which are large festive celebrations of a girl's 15th birthday. The supermarkets had expanded their produce offerings, and added many other products for their new customers. New churches and synagogues were founded. I wonder how startling it must have been for nurses in the area to care for these new arrivals—and how challenging. I hope that they found some guidance in articles such as those we feature in this issue.

Individuals are just that—individual. But learning about different cultures provides some context for care

However, even though such articles attempt to help practicing nurses, it's appropriate to remember that articles about different cultures are written as broad strokes. Just like the person who lives in Nashville and hates country music, many women from different countries do not meet a specific cultural stereotype. Individuals are just that—individual. But learning about different cultures provides some context for care.

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We used to talk about North America being a melting pot, somewhat like a creamy soup. Today we know it's actually more of a salad, with various ingredients making it a zesty offering. As the world flattens and we learn more about women of other cultures, we see our own culture and others more clearly, and are able to appreciate the variations. We also are able to provide better care to women from all cultures. After all, another connotation of the word culture relates to being cultured, or being a civilized person striving for excellence. Let's all get cultured. NWH

Biography

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    Mary Brucker, PhD, CNM, FACNM, is a professor at the Louise Herrington School of Nursing at Baylor University in Dallas, TX, and she is the editor of Nursing for Women's Health.