Ethnic and cultural considerations in Forensic Nursing

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I read about cultural sensitivity and becoming culturally competent, and having worked in a very culturally diverse setting I studied assessment skills of special populations a lot. I tried diligently to not stereotype, to utilize interpreters, and to plan care based upon the values of the person and their health seeking behaviors/needs.

Now, I am in a predominately forensic setting (long-term care state psychiatric hospital) with many cultures and ethnicities present. Some attitudinal issues perplex me; be cautions around this patient, not only is he Hispanic but he murdered his Mother. Watch this person, he is African American and is a repeat offender, you know he is antisocial. Oh, this guy is willing to be deported because he is so kind and he thinks life will be better if he returns to Ethiopia.

I challenge the mindset of stereotyping by culture/ethnicity and by crime. I challenge the mindset of stereotyping based upon Axis II disorders. I wonder, is it complacency or is it overt familiarity with the long-term care patient that develops this thinking in the staff.

I find it exciting to conduct thorough and comprehensive assessment in collaboration with the patient and the interdisciplinary team to move toward planning that will optimize positive outcomes in the patient. Is that naivety on my part or is that our job?

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