A. W. ’s Mexican Heritage Richard Sniffen Pace University Abstract America’s healthcare system has shown an increasing need for professional nurses who are trained and skilled in providing culturally competent care. With diverse cultures from all over the world each has their own beliefs and views towards health, illness, and healing. For today’s nurses to provide competent care they must recognize and respect the traditions and beliefs of each culture. Nurses must understand who they themselves are and put aside their personal opinions and beliefs to care for each patient without judgment.
In trying to gain knowledge on a culture I wasn’t familiar with I interviewed my friend AW who is a native born Mexican American. Her insight into the Mexican culture and their views of health, illness, and healing provided many similarities and differences than that of the American culture. With Americas’ largest minority population being from Mexican backgrounds, nurses must be culturally competent towards their beliefs and customs to provide them with more effective and positive care. For my cultural assessment, I insisted on interviewing my very close friend A. W. She is 21 years old and was born in the United States of America.
Her parents were first generation Americans with her grandparents coming to America in 1935. Her grandfather joined the U. S. Army and fought in World War II in order to gain citizenship. After the war her grandfather and grandmother married and settled down in Brooklyn, N. Y. AW is tall for a Mexican girl at 5’7” and is very thin weighing approximately 125 pounds. She is also very athletic currently being a college swimmer. She has long brown curly hair that matches her eyes and fair colored skin. She is currently in college at a school in Massachusetts where she lives in an off campus apartment.
She is the older of two girls separated by three years. They are very close with one another, which is represented by both of them going to the same college together. When not attending school she lives back home with her parents in Upstate New York. Her drive for success, which was instilled in her by her father, pushed her competitively and academically in pursuing a career in sports broadcasting. In AW’s future when she believes she has obtained a success career plans on some day marrying and having kids. She would like to live in a city particularly Boston, and would not want to be too far away from her sister and parents.
According to AW the most important thing to her in life is her family. She described her upbringing as being balanced between the characteristics of her mother and father. Her mother taught her to be kind, gentle, and caring, while her father taught her to be competitive, motivated, and confident. The desire to succeed resonates deeply within Latino values of a commitment and persistence (Torres, 2009). Both parents also emphasized getting good grades, religion, and eating health. Both of them worked good jobs but the father was the primary income earner and head of the household.
She explained that the mother worked a full time job while also maintaining the house and preparing healthy meals. AW spoke Spanish and English fluently. Normally she would speak English at home and with her friends, but would use Spanish when she was at church or when she was with her older and distant relatives. Latino cultural family values have always had a preference to staying connected with family members creating a warm and friendly environment (Cersosimo, 2011). The Mexican views of health, healing, and illness differ in some ways from modern day health practices.
AW and her family are strong believers in the Catholic faith. Her family attends mass every week, and prays to God to watch over their loved ones for safety and good health. One of the practices of the Catholic faith is allowing the dying family member to be given the Final Sacrament. This ritual is conducted by a priest and allows the ill individual to be granted entry into heaven after they have died. When her grandfather passed away a few years ago she explained the priest being there and providing him the service and feels he is at peace now in heaven.
So AW and her families’ worldview of god is represented by the religious practices and beliefs in spiritual dependence on god (Leninger, 2002). In the Mexican culture immediate and extended family members are greatly involved in providing support and assistance. AW saw an importance and strength in being close to all her family members and being involved in helping them get better. Older family members who do not speak sufficient English like her would need help with translating. Faith was important to her by attending mass every week and participating in community service and helping others.
She talked about how most Mexican Americans are not as fortunate as she is with many having to illegally move to America to have a better life. Mexican Americans having low socioeconomic status have very limited access to healthcare due to not being able to pay for private health insurance. Development of patient education with bilingual resources can expand health promotions for low income Mexican Americans (Cersosimo, 2011). During the interview AW discussed how while most of her relatives seek out modern healthcare services.
Some of her family members are strictly against modern medicine and still practice using traditional Mexican folk treatments. She described their views of treatment of diseases should be done through herbal remedies and teas. I myself have a biased opinion toward scientific proof and modern medicine. I do however understand that these practices may have been used for generations and hold traditional significance to the culture. If having a patient who practiced these practices I would try and incorporate their traditional practices to allow culturally congruent care.
For providing culturally competent health care for Mexican patients there are multiple values and beliefs a nurse must be sensitive to. Some of these the nurse should be aware of are the importance of family, possible language barriers, and religious practices. The important role of family members in Mexican cultures help to provide support and care. A nurse should provide educational programs to family members to help increase support and possibly make it possible for them to take care of the patient at home (Cersosimo, 2011). Many Mexican families are fluent in Spanish and may not be able to communicate in English.
The facility should be able to provide a professional interpreter to decrease communication errors (Cersosimo, 2011). With Mexican cultures having a strong Catholic faith nurses must educate themselves on the practices and beliefs to ensure competent care. In the case of a dying patient the hospital should provide a priest and allow the time for him to provide the patient with the Final Sacrament (Cersosimo, 2011). For my interview with AW we talked in my dorm room sitting next to each other three feet apart on a couch. We had been very close friends since elementary school so three feet was a mutually comfortable distance for the both of us.
We were both at the same eye level making good eye contact as well. I found myself in the beginning asking too many closed-ended questions finding them to only have AW provide me with very short answers. Until getting deeper into the interview I was able to use more open-ended questions for her to elaborate on. I also used reflective and circular questions, which allowed me to gain a better perspective on her family and their beliefs and values as well as events from her past. During the interview I was engaged showing interest in what AW had to say and receiving the same in return.
By using these various communication styles I was able to learn a lot about AW and her families Mexican heritage and culture. References Cersosimo, Eugenio. “Improving Treatment in Hispanic/Latino Patients. ” The American Journal of Medicine 124. 10 (2011): S16-21. PubMed. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. Leininger, Madeleine M. , and Marilyn R. McFarland. Transcultural Nursing: Concepts, Theories, Research and Practice. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Medical Pub. Division. 2002. Print. Torres, Lucas. “Latino Definition of Success: A Cultural Model of Intercultural Competence. ” Academic Search Premier. EBSCO, 23 Sept. 2009. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.