Working as an ED nurse at a very busy hospital in North Carolina, I see patients from many different cultures who are seeking care (“A Place for Faith: My First Experience of Cultural Competence in Nursing,” Reflections, March). I agree that being culturally competent is extremely important. To me, it comes down to a matter of respect.
Once, there was a gentleman in our ED who had a hemorrhagic stroke and was going to die. His family requested that he receive last rites from a priest. In this instance, and in several others, we were unable to make this happen for the family in time. It's a shame that we cannot always honor this simple request. Since it isn't something we do every day, we cannot always rapidly contact leaders of different faiths.
Each year, the United States becomes more diverse, with people of different races and religions, and with differing beliefs about medicine and medical care. As nurses, we owe it to our patients to provide them with the best care possible in ways they find appropriate. It's not always easy, but it comes down to treating others the way we would like to be treated.
Cindy Reed, RN