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Cultural Differences

Certified nursing assistants often have colleagues and patients who come from different cultural backgrounds. Learning more about the ways in which different types of people think and live their lives will help nursing assistants to better care for their patients. One patient might not eat a certain type of food because of her religious beliefs. Another patient tries to be more independent than her health allows. All patients have their own ideas about how they want to live, and they may find it difficult to change their routines when their health care needs change.

Everyone grows up in his or her own culture. What is culture? Culture includes the beliefs, morals, laws, and traditions of a group of people. Culture can also include family relations, gender roles, language, art, music, religion, housing, and food. Every person is an individual and has his or her own beliefs, traditions, and lifestyle, but knowing a little about different cultures around the world will help you to understand your coworkers and clients better.

According to sociologists, people from Asian, Latino, and African backgrounds usually have collectivist cultures, meaning they are more group-oriented and focused on doing what benefits their group culture before themselves. People with a European background (white or Caucasian) usually have an individualist culture, meaning they are centered on the individual first. They believe if the individual benefits, then the group will benefit. People from collectivist and individualist cultures might not understand each other’s ideas about independence and dependence on others.

Religion can be a large part of culture. People’s traditions, foods, and gender roles are often impacted by their religion. Learning a little about the major religions of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism will help you to understand your patients’ beliefs and requests.

As a nursing assistant, you will work with people from different cultures. If you don’t understand someone’s beliefs or ideas, it’s a good idea to ask respectful questions to learn more about the person’s cultural background.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners