The Homeless

Our topic for this week in transcultural nursing was on the homeless population. Over the summer I had the chance to interact with many patients from this culture in the ER. Often in the emergency room, we’re the only healthcare they’ve got.

I will never forget the day I helped an older gentleman with his care. I walked into the room and soon had to hold my breath due to the smell. Literal dirt was on the bed along with some leaves. I wanted to get in and get out until a humbling learning experience was given to me. The patient could probably tell my reaction to walking in his room and quickly apologized for the smell and the dirt. He wouldn’t stop apologizing to me and said he wished he was cleaner. I felt awful! I quickly decided to be the nurse he deserved that day and told him I was more than happy to help him. He quickly became at ease with me and was cooperative the rest of the time he was there.

This patient truly needed the medical attention as we ruled out his problems. Had he left due to my offending him, I could never live with myself. I’m guilty as much as anyone else for not being excited to care for those that don’t smell as good or look as good as others.

In healthcare, we need to do a better job of treating a homeless individual the same as any other patient. We need to make sure we give them the best care possible since often they don’t have access outside of the occasional ER visit. I can’t imagine how difficult being surrounded in poverty would be! I would hope to be looked at as a person, rather than a bum on the street. We need to remember that this population is victim to mental health illness, violence, and multigenerational poverty. It’s not a choice for many families and individuals to get out of this situation.

I don’t know how to fix this problem of poverty, but I do know that healthcare can join forces with political leaders to make a change. If we stand by other patients, why shouldn’t we stand by homeless patients. I think we’re just as responsible for the poverty in America as anyone else if we don’t try to do something about it. Sometimes, just being that kind nurse is a great way for homeless patients to continue seeking care when they need it. It can’t be easy coming into the hospital when everyone looks down upon you. I say we change that! I say we treat everyone the way we would hope to be treated if we were in their situation. I think the best way to change poverty is to embrace those that are in it.

Jehovah Witness

This week our topic was on Jehovah Witness beliefs. I have interacted with many members of this faith throughout my life. I’ve experienced their belief in Evangelism or door to door knocking before. I have found them to be kind people and I respect them for their diligence in sharing their beliefs. I can’t imagine door to door knocking being an easy task!

I wanted to focus on one particular topic that has caused a lot of controversy within the medical field. As I’ve said before, I respect this religion immensely, but as a future nurse, the issue with blood transfusions may pose as a challenge. As many of us know, Jehovah Witness members do not believe in blood transfusions. This belief stems from different passages in the bible and failure to follow can result in disfellowship.

I think that we nurses need to be sensitive to the fear of disfellowship that blood transfusion can cause. We should also be sensitive that this is their religious belief. I wanted to know what to do in the case of a pediatric patient whose parents are Jehovah Witnesses. There have been cases where parents have refused life saving blood transfusions for their children because it is contrary to their religious beliefs.

When researching this, I found the United States governmental stand on how to approach the situation. The Supreme Court stated that, “the right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose…the child…to ill health or death.” In other words, if a parent’s religious beliefs place a child’s life in danger, the state is allowed to intervene to protect the child.

Again, I think it is important to be sensitive to the beliefs of others but knowing actions to legally take in life threatening cases is also important. I think the best way to approach religious beliefs is with an open mind and understanding of the importance of these beliefs to the patient. If legal actions have to occur, we can still be civil and kind. Explaining the duty the state has to protect minors will be necessary when children are treated against parent’s will.


Latter Day Saint Culture

This week our class topic was on LDS culture. I personally chose to focus on LDS belief of death since I was curious to see what scholars wrote. I am LDS so this was a unique experience in the sense that I read about my culture in a non-religious text. I enjoyed it and found it insightful to see how others view my beliefs. It made me more aware and curious as to what I really do find to be truth in my life.

LDS religion teaches that there is life after death, we will be in physical bodies again due to Christ’s resurrection, and families can be together forever. Today I’m celebrating the 48th birthday of my Father-in-Law, who passed away in November of 2013. I grew up with him as a father figure in my life and miss him terribly. I think that’s why I love the LDS belief of life after death so much because I can’t bear the thought of never seeing him again. I also love to know that he’ll be my family forever!

When thinking about patients who will either face death or families who will lose loved ones, I know that my religion is important to me when it comes to those aspects of life. Reading about my own beliefs made me more sensitive to what others might feel towards death. I want to be as sensitive and as accepting of their beliefs as I hope others would be towards mine. I think being the nurse that openly accepts important beliefs on topics such as death is important because one way or another we’ll be faced with this situation and we’ll be responsible for promoting the most therapeutic environment we can.

Cultural Diversity

This week our topic within Transcultural Nursing has been on cultural diversity. I’ve had opportunities growing up to be in a large mix of different cultures. Living in California, it’s a guarantee to be around cultures different from you’re own. However, since moving to Utah, my experience in interacting with patient’s of different cultures has been limited. This does not excuse me for a lack of knowledge in cultures, hence the reason I’m taking this course.

I read an article about a study done in Australia where businesses looked at the impact racism has on companies. It contributed to significant anxiety and depression and reduced productivity in the workplace. The study mentioned that diversity in the work place is better for innovating, creating, and producing. It improves the quality of a company to have employees of multiple backgrounds.

When thinking about how this related to nursing, I can’t help but feel that we as health care employees are a part of a large company whether that be a hospital, clinic, etc. Our job requires productivity, creativity, and innovation. If we cannot work with each other, how can we help our patients? In addition, how can we promote the health of our patients if we are unwilling to include them and their beliefs in their care?

I’ve had many experiences where language was a barrier to my care. Rather than ignore my patient, I decided to do my best to look up phrases in Spanish. I was able to get by with what I knew. I could tell that although my Spanish was dreadful, my patients appreciated the gesture and were more willing to be active participants in the care given. We were able to find a translator for them and it all worked out. I think the biggest lesson to learn is that diversity = better care! How can we progress if we can’t learn from others? I know that I’ll make it my goal to be more considerate to other cultures and to make an effort to understand their point of view.

Yay for cultural diversity!

Link to the article I read:

Hello world!

Hi everyone! My name is Aly.

I’m from Huntington Beach, California, but decided to ditch the beach for these gorgeous mountains here in Utah. I was a competitive surfer for my high school, but decided that there was more to life than just riding waves. I am currently in UVU’s nursing program and am so proud to be apart of it. The experience I’ve had has been nothing but positive! My favorite niche of nursing is critical care/emergency.

This blog will be devoted to what I’m discovering in my transcultural nursing class. UVU’s nursing motto is for us nurses to be caring and competent. What better way than to understand the many cultures that we will approach in hospitals across the state! My reflective journals will cover my feelings on topics and what I have learned from my studies in this class.

Thanks for reading!