What Is Transcultural Nursing?

Transcultural nursing is a distinct nursing specialty which focuses on global cultures and comparative cultural caring, health, and nursing phenomena. The transcultural nurse looks to respond to the imperative for developing a global perspective within the nursing field in an increasingly globalized world of interdependent and interconnected nations and individuals. The primary aim of this specialty is to provide culturally congruent nursing care. To be an effective transcultural nurse, you should possess the ability to recognize and appreciate cultural differences in healthcare values, beliefs, and customs. Transcultural nurses shouldn't only be familiar with the religious customs, values, and beliefs of patients, but also how someone's way of life, their modes of thought, and their unique customs can immensely affect them in how they deal with illness, healing, disease, and deaths.

Becoming a Transcultural Nurse

Put simply, transcultural nursing is nursing with a primary focus on care that is culturally sensitive and inclusive. A transcultural nurse helps their patients by providing culturally sensitive care to patients hailing from all around the globe. These nurses often treat patients who are migrants, immigrants, or refugees. Transcultural nurses work not only in foreign countries, but also right here in our diverse cities, applying their knowledge to their local nursing position, and sometimes helping integrate their philosophies into nursing practices at clinics and hospitals.

What Are the Educational Requirements for Transcultural Nurses?

Transcultural nurses must begin their careers by obtaining licenses as registered nurses (RNs). Essentially, there are two educational pathways that lead toward licensure. Prospective transcultural nurses can begin their educational process by earning either a four-year Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) or by earning a two-year Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN). Upon obtaining either of these educational degrees, one must then take and pass the NCLEX-RN (Nursing Council Licensure Examination). The last step is to apply with the state's licensing agency to become a fully registered nurse.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

Because transcultural nursing is a relatively new sub-specialty of nursing, certification in the field has only been available since 1987. Although certification is an entirely voluntary process, most employers see it as necessary for employment. A certification in transcultural nursing demonstrates a registered nurse's commitment to mastery in the specialty. Furthermore, it exhibits to co-workers and future patients that your knowledge and skill level are both current and up to par with national standards. Both advanced and basic transcultural nursing certifications are available via the Transcultural Nursing Society. However, those seeking advanced certification in transcultural nursing will first need to complete a master's degree or doctorate in nursing to be qualified.

Research Transcultural Nursing DNP Programs.

Where Do Transcultural Nurses Work?

Transcultural nurses can be found working in the following healthcare settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Community clinics
  • Outpatient facilities

What Does a Transcultural Nurse Do?

Transcultural nurses seek to provide culturally congruent and competent care to their patients. Providing culturally congruent care means providing care that fits the patient's valued life patterns. Since this will vary from culture to culture, transcultural nurses are expected to be familiar with a wide variety of cultures and their corresponding values. Providing culturally competent care refers to the ability of the transcultural nurse to bridge cultural gaps in caring, as well as working with cultural contrast to enable clients and families to bring about meaningful care.

What Are the Roles and Duties of a Transcultural Nurse?

The functions and obligations of transcultural nurses include, but aren't limited to, the following:

  • Communicate with foreign patients and their loved ones
  • Educate families on patients' medical status
  • Act as a bridge between a particular patient's culture and healthcare practice
  • Determine the patient's cultural heritage and language skills
  • Determine if any of the patient's health beliefs relate to the cause of their illness or problem
  • Collect information on any home remedies the person is taking to treat their symptoms
  • Understand the influence of culture, race, and ethnicity on the development of social and emotional relationships, child rearing practices, and attitude toward health
  • Collect information about the socioeconomic status of the family and its influence on their health promotion and wellness

Transcultural Nurse Salary & Employment

The employment outlook for nursing is most promising in each of its many specializations—including transcultural nursing. Even amidst global economic downturns, the healthcare field continues to grow at a semi-rapid pace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing profession as a whole is predicted to increase 22 percent by 2018. According to the American Nurses Association, because large numbers of currently employed nurses are nearing retirement age, the increasing demand for nurses should continue. Furthermore, as Western countries continue to become more and more diverse with people from different religions, cultures, and races, demand for transcultural nurses will inevitably expand.

Helpful Organizations, Societies, and Agencies

Transcultural Nurse FAQs

When it comes to language barriers, transcultural nurses need to assess the patient's ability to speak, understand, and read English. Some patients may understand some spoken English, but are unable to read instructions that are in English or vice versa. Assessing individual language needs helps nurses determine the best way to implement interventions via translation.

The best way to ensure healthcare terminology is translated appropriately is to have qualified interpreter clinical staff available - ideally in person. Qualified staff should be certified in translating a particular language, as the focus is on medical terminology. While patients' family members may be able to translate, they may not be familiar with medical terminology, and therefore potentially critical information may be misinterpreted. Moreover, healthcare facilities may provide written instructions, patient handouts, and/or electronic communication (such as e-mail) in different languages.

There are also language phone lines available. Health care providers can call an interpreter service and initiate a conference call in which an interpreter relays all the information. While helpful, this method can be time-consuming and sometimes non-clinical personnel are translating. Certain complex medical issues need further description or explanation, which increases the chances of interpretation errors. A newer method to overcoming language barriers is face-to-face language apps. Using an iPod or similar device, health care providers can get an interpreter for face-to-face translating.