Women from many different cultures

The forensics nurse is called upon to take care of many women from many different cultures. Rape and abuse happen every day. Women of all ages, from all cultures are victims. Providing culturally competent care in forensics nursing happens at many levels.
To begin with, the provider must understand her own feelings about different cultures, and acknowledge that one’s life experiences reflect the way in which one reacts to the world. Did the provider grow up in a tightly knit, excusive community? Was she exposed to many cultures prior to working in the health care setting? What messages did she hear as she was growing up?
The second step is to look at her own feelings working with cultures different from her own. Does she find it difficult and awkward, or does she approach each encounter as a learning experience? Stepping outside the box helps. The culture that condemns female circumcision needs to understand that other cultures may condemn the male infant circumcision. Also, try to visualize what it would be like to seek care and not be able to speak the language or understand the customs.
The third step is knowledge. The provider who learns about different cultures on many different levels is open to new information and ways of doing things. Ask questions. Are there certain personal or religious beliefs the client observes? Are there healers from different cultures who can do an inservice?
The fourth step is understanding basic human rights. Look into your client’s eyes, use touch and acknowledge that she is above all a woman of the human race. With the basic human right comes the right for privacy. Although it may seem easier to use the support person for an interpreter, this can be disempowering for the client. Have a good working knowledge of how to contact the interpreter and explain that the interpreter is specially trained. Some cultures require a female attendant. Know how to access this before the situation happens. If the partner seems reluctant to leave, have a plan worked out for a fellow nurse or medical secretary to find a reason to have him or her leave the room.
Lastly, ask the client if there is anything you could have done different. Reflect on the situation and learn from each case. Share information with your colleagues (maintaining confidentiality).

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