The Culture of Nursing

The Culture of Nursing - Rick Zoucha, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, CTN-A, FAAN

We are indeed living in an unusual time.  A time of weather extremes, political divisions, racial justice, COVID-19, Vaccine administrations, isolation, uncertainty . . . and of course hope!  The last year has provided opportunities to pause and make and take time for reflection. This has been a time for both personal and professional reflection and growth.  A time to consider what matters and what doesn’t.  A time to consider what it means to be a good person. A time to consider the meaning of life, family, culture, country and the world. Who we are and what we are made of?  Where we come from is important.  How does our culture and cultural history bring us to this point during these unusual times?  It does seem to guide us in how we live and how we treat others during these unusual times.  In addition, these unusual times have offered reflection on what it means to be a nurse.

In reflecting on the profession of nursing and who we are as nurses seem to point to a clear view of us rising to the call to care. It has led us to stand up and do what we do best, even when we are tired and exhausted.  We have indeed risen to the call in these unusual times. It has been noted generally and in the media that nurses are hero’s and have gone beyond the expected. As a reflection, we as nurses can feel a sense of pride that we are resilient, strong, committed and hopeful.  We have always been this way.  However, in these unusual times it becomes clearer that we have risen to the call not only historically but for the here and now and the future as well.

It is important to note that who we are and how we care is based on how we have been raised and nurtured in the culture of nursing.  Each individual nurse comes to the profession with unique cultural values, beliefs and traditions that provide a guide for living and connecting with those inside and outside of their culture.  Nurses bring these rich cultural values with them to the profession. Cultural values, beliefs, traditions and behaviors inform our care and make us better and more effective nurses. However, we also learn the cultural lifeways, beliefs, values and traditions of nursing in the context of care.  In addition to the cultural values, we bring with us, we learn about the culture of nursing through our professors, nursing scholars, colleagues, professional nursing organizations, health care institutions and most importantly from those who are recipients of care.  As nurses we operationalize the cultural values of compassion, communication, empathy, ethical treatment of others to name a few and collectively engage in promoting culturally congruent care.  It is our values, it is how we behave, and it is how we consistently promote health and well-being as nurses regardless of the culture of the individual, family or community entrusted to our care.  We have the unique opportunity to share our collective cultural care values of nursing with many in these unusual times.  We have risen to the call to care now.  We are doing what we have always done.  Remember this . . .we are resilient, strong, committed and hopeful not only in these unusual times but always!