Joni Watson and three fellow nursing students, had a valuable cultural experience during a study tour in Cuernavaca, Mexico, five years ago. They were lost, and the taxi driver had difficulty finding their temporary homes. The driver yelled in Spanish in an attempt to be understood.
This made me realize how frightened patients must feel when they come to an American hospital, ill, Watson says. Nurses often rattle off jargon or talk louder to patients who dont really understand.
Watson, RN, MSN, MBA, ONC, program director, nursing oncology education program, a project of the Texas Nurses Association/Foundation, says the incident remains vivid in her mind.Wendy J. Barr, RN
Watson was a nursing student participating in the cultural immersion nursing elective provided by the University of Texas at Arlington School of Nursing. The school continues to offer a five-week summer elective that includes a two-week cultural immersion and language study in Mexico for students and the biannual, one-week Travel, Study, Learn continuing education program for RNs.
As the Hispanic population in the U.S. grows exponentially, nurses struggle to become culturally sensitive, says Mary Lou Bond, RN, PhD, FAAN, co-creator of the program at the UT. We must find ways to help nurses assess their beliefs toward other cultures and develop cultural sensitivity.
Students also learn about Mexicos healthcare system, womens role in the Mexican family, traditional medicine, and the role of religion in healthcare. The experience helps participants open their minds to different people and transfer what theyve learned to nursing practice, says Wendy J. Barr, RN, PhD, CNE, codirector with Bond of the Center for Hispanic Studies in Nursing and Health. For information about the upcoming Travel, Study, Learn Program, log on to www.uta.edu/nursing or call 817-272-5376.