The American Indian Patient Analysis

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Culturally Sensitive End of Life Care for the American Indian Patient Being able to answer the question “Who are you?” is one of the most momentous events in an individual’s development. The question is not an easy one to answer because each person is made of up different beliefs, behaviors, and traditions that often are rooted deep in his or her heritage. Simply put, that question can be answered only when a person fully understands his or her culture. Although ethnicity can certainly play a large role in culture, believing that it is the defining factor would be irresponsible. There is so much more to know about a person’s culture than simply his genetic lineage. Similarly to an individual, healthcare has a culture of its own. Rather than…show more content…
Yes, most Native Americans will identify themselves as Christians, but it is a “profoundly complex, deeply cultural, and holistically intertwined topic” (Kulis, 2012, p.444). In traditional Christianity, the focus is solely on God, but Native American spirituality gives respect to not only God but to the environment. This results in a need for care to be all-encompassing with a focus on not just the disease, but on the mind and soul as well. Because of the fact that the American Indian people take a more holistic approach to health than many westerners do, patient-centered care for an American Indian is a very involved process. A harmony must exist among the healthcare providers, the patient and his family, and the environment. Also, the Native American people view life as a never-ending spiritual cycle. A birth is a joyous occasion, but death is equally momentous as it is believed that the spirit lives on, either through a rebirth into the world or through entrance into Heaven. Lowe postulates that being present for a birth, welcoming a new soul to the world, is just as poignant as being with a family member as their soul is ushered out through death (2001). These are two opposite ends of the spectrum of life, yet both are an honor to experience. Because death can be viewed as an honor of a life well lived, giving it the respect it deserves is imperative…show more content…
Cultural education and awareness are key factors in providing respectful care to our patients. Being aware of differences in forms of communication, beliefs about life and death, and being able to accept and show respect for traditions that may not be our own will all come through continuing our education as nurses. We must remain vigilant to our patients and their families, noticing just how giving of ourselves and our time we are. With a Native American family, tone and body language can completely override the words that are spoken. The nurse who is attempting to provide respectful, culturally competent care will have to take the extra time, to develop the trust and respect that are so integral to their culture. Knowing that, in many cases, this culture will remain quiet and watchful will certainly make a difference in how the nurse carries herself throughout her patient care, simply as a show of respect. Providing care while being mindful that a different culture is being dealt with may take a bit more time, but as a caregiver, what can convey more caring than a show of respect for one’s
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