The San Joaquin Valley of California is nestled in the center of the state. Within the San Joaquin valley the rich culture of the Mexican people can be seen in almost every facet of living. There are also many nursing schools in the area, approximately five in the area in which I reside. The most current statistic from the census bureau regarding the percentage of Hispanics in Tulare County is 62. 3% (USCB, 2014). This means that over half of the inhabitants of the county are Hispanic.
The knowledge, understanding and grasp of cultural sensitivity on the part of non-Hispanic as well as Hispanic nurses is paramount in being able to give the best possible care. The purpose of this writing is to inform the reader of the need to address cultural sensitivity towards the Mexican and Mexican American people and their battle with diabetes. This is a very prevalent disease in this county and amongst this ethnic group. Cultural competency is paramount in communicating effectively and getting the message across that diabetes is a serious but manageable condition (Grant and Letzring, 2003).
Mexican American Culture and Diabetes
In the Tulare, County area the Mexican American culture can be seen in all areas of healthcare. Many of these people are diabetic. Cultural and dietary differences create challenges in dealing with diabetics in this demographic. Nurses that are culturally competent to their town, city, state or country and who understand what makes up their population may find it more manageable to communicate with their Hispanic patients (Wood, 2004). An excellent article on this subject is entitled Leisure time activity of Mexican Americans with diabetes. This article
deals with the issue of Mexican Americans and what they do or do not do in their leisure time and how it affects their diabetes. The aim of the research was to find the proportion of Mexican Americans with diabetes who do and do not exercise as well as preferred types of leisure time 3 Cultural Sensitivity according to age and gender. In addition, the question of the relationship between leisure time activity and treatment of diabetes is discussed. This study found that only six of every ten Mexican Americans with diabetes exercise (Wood, 2003).
It was also found that gardening and walking were the most preferred type of leisure time activity. Cultural differences are machismo, language barriers and spiritual beliefs. This can make it challenging for the treating nurse to accomplish his or her tasks. Nurses and Mexican Culture Nurses may find it challenging however, understanding the Mexican culture and learning more of their language is most helpful. In professional practice a registered nurse will find it helpful in knowing that in the Mexican culture it is common for the man to be the strong leader of his family.
Also, the men will not want to be present during visits to the Doctor for what they deem as female problems which can be anything from a UTI to a breast exam. In addition there is a culture of hot and cold that affects much of the health and lifestyle of the Mexican American patient. Many refer to placing heat on a hurt area, thereby increasing inflammation to what may be an injury. At other times ice is placed on an area of the foot that is itching. The itching is coming from a tingling they feel that is related to diabetic neuropathy.
It should be noted that many Mexican Americans are what many term as Americanized, meaning that they are and have become mainstream in the American culture vs the Mexican culture. However, because many are raised by Mexican parents they too, are just like many of us, bicultural with one culture being dominant. Touch is also an important aspect for nurses to consider in treating the Mexican American. In those that are Americanized this is not an issue. However, for those that are still deeply rooted in their Mexican culture the sex of a nurse could be an issue and create barriers to 4 Cultural Sensitivity care.
An example of this would be a male nurse treating a married female. These types of circumstances can make treating their diabetes more difficult. Wood states that In the USA, Mexican Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes then non-Hispanic whites. This deems attention to the need for nurses to be culturally competent. Some of the competencies a nurse needs in treating the Mexican American patient are finding out if they speak English, if they raised in the United States, and finding whether they are second, third or fourth generation and so on.
In treating the Mexican American patient the nurse can also offer information in a simple manner. Many times, due to a macho personality that has been glorified in the culture the patient may feel offended or condescended to. In addition one can simplify too much and this too could compound the problem. There is a fine balance that can be made easier to navigate by conversing and educating patients in what may seem a non-clinical approach. Conclusion The need for nurses to be culturally competent is paramount in giving the best possible care.
In this group being competent in knowing how to treat a Mexican American patient in the best way possible is to be sensitive in communication by addressing the patient and at times the entire family as this is very normal for their culture. The article that is the subject of this writing concludes by stating several of their findings one of which is that employment and responsibilities limits the time they have for leisure to early evenings when it is dark and safety becomes an issue. Treating diabetes in this ethnic group is best done by realizing what the culture believes, thinks and what it is they eat. I find the eating part just as enjoyable as the rest.
5 Cultural Sensitivity References Barker, A. M. & Denisco, S. M. (2013). Advanced practice nursing: Evolving roles for the transformation of the profession. (2nd ed. ). Connecticut: Jones and Bartlett. Grant, MS, RN, L. , & Letzring, JD, EdD, T. (2003). Status of Cultural Competence in Nursing Education. The Journal of Multicultural Nursing & Health, 9(2), 6-6. United States Census Bureau. (2014, December 4). Retrieved January 21, 2015, from http://quickfacts. census. gov/qfd/states/00000. html Wood, F. (2004). Leisure time activity of Mexican Americans with diabetes. Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 45(2), 190-196.