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The term cultural competence consists of two words, culture and competence (Jirwe, Gerrish, & Emami, 2006). Culture is defined as the learned, shared and transmitted values, beliefs, norms and life practices of a particular group of people (Leininger & McFarland, 2002). Peoples' culture can be understood through their actions, that is, their behavioral patterns and through understanding why people act in the way they do; their functional patterns (Leininger & McFarland).
Culture can also be understood through an interpretation of one's world, through one's cognitive processes, or through a person's understanding of their world, which is linked to their symbolic interactions (Jirwe, Gerrish, & Emami, 2006). “Since cultural background greatly affects several aspects of people's lives, i.e. their beliefs, language, religion, family structure and body image, this must be considered when caring for people from other cultures” (Jirwe, Gerrish, & Emami, p. 12).
Cultural competence is a way of practicing one’s profession by being sensitive to the differences in cultures of one’s constituents and acting in a way that is respectful of the client’s values and traditions while performing those activities or procedures necessary for the client’s well-being (DeChesnay, 2008). It takes into account the cultural differences between the nurse and the patient, while meeting the needs of the patient.
We have chosen to deliberate on the Amish culture because due to their beliefs, lifestyle and isolation from the modern world, much mystery surrounds their culture and many nurses are unable to relate to their culture, understand it, or practice culturally competent care (Jirwe, Gerrish, & Emami, 2006, ).
Amish families have purposely separated themselves from the advancing modern society that surrounds them and refuse to depend on outside help in order to survive (Baker, 2007). This seems such a rebellious and alternative way of life that is hard for many people to understand (Baker).