Cultural Competence in American Healthcare

The issue of cultural competence in medical practice has become more and more widely discussed and urgent in recent years. This type of competence for a doctor implies the ability to adapt medical care to the cultural context required in the situation of a particular patient. Non-White patients in America are statistically less well served, and it can be assumed that a large part of this is due to a lack of knowledge of the cultural code of representatives of other nationalities.

Cultural diversity around the world is in constant growth, and it is the nurse’s job to be able to provide appropriate care, not to a common standard, but in a different culture to which the patient belongs. Note that this applies not only to representatives of other races, cultural competence should also affect, for example, representatives of the LGBT + community (Orgel, 2017). Sensitivity to members of other social groups, inclusiveness, should be a principle of decent health care. Closed and obscure cultures, such as the Appalachians in America, are often the subject of legend. Throughout the 20th century, various myths were added about the Appalachian region, depicting the inhabitants as unadapted to the civilized life of savages. Hence, instead of taking into account the peculiarities of the culture, the inhabitants of the region were treated more like underdeveloped people.

Cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity are essential building blocks that form, among others, the basis for cultural competence, that is, the ability to competently treat patients of other races and worldviews. Awareness implies a psychological attitude that accepts other cultures due to the awareness of their humanistic equality. Cultural sensitivity is extremely close to the previous term and sometimes even overlaps with it (Sharifi et al., 2017). This ability includes the skill of intercultural communication and adherence to the principles of ethnocentrism. Thus, all these three terms are parties to the same humanistic principle of equality of any human unit and its right to quality medical care. For example, health beliefs in Mexico are based on the ancient Greek concept of four substances in the body, so professional medicine can be strongly opposed by an old-fashioned patient.

The importance of the patient’s eating habits, which are largely due to cultural and social specifics, should also not be underestimated. A person’s diet directly depends on his lifestyle, formed by national, cultural, social circumstances. Therefore, a person’s dietary habits must certainly be taken into account when staying in a hospital and providing treatment. The diet of Mexican Americans includes a large number of fatty foods, but the stereotype that such foods contribute to obesity more than traditional American cuisine is grossly exaggerated (Yoshida et al., 2017). Despite the large number of diseases affecting a large percentage of the Spanish population, the problem is not necessarily nutritional.

Religious worldviews of representatives of different cultures can be a complex factor arising in medical practice. However, they should be treated with particular scrupulousness, since for the patient, they can form the basis of moral and human foundations. The attending physician must understand the importance of religious concepts for a particular person, be able to listen to spiritual principles, understand their importance, even if they do not culturally overlap with the physician’s worldview. Although the vast majority of Mexican Americans are Catholic, successful contact in healthcare remains difficult due to other factors such as language barriers, lack of insurance, and mutual distrust. This situation is all the more problematic given that the Hispanic diaspora in America has entrenched diseases and medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and HIV.

Speaking of Cuban culture, to which I belong, it should be noted the vast cultural diversity within the multinational population of this country. More than 50 percent of Cubans are mestizo, a cross between black and white, and over 30 percent are white. This national spread determines the special mixed status of Cuban culture. It is a unique blend of African and Spanish culture, implying great social openness and friendliness to the stranger. Cuban culture, as opposed to American, is collectivist, where life is perceived as functioning for the benefit of society and not the individual. Diversity in Cuba really means unity within one energetic society.

It is surprising that despite the socialist, close to the totalitarian model of government, health care in Cuba is considered one of the exemplary. It is interesting to note this in contrast to the American capitalist health care system, which is so fragmented that it is difficult to obtain quality care in some regions. In many respects, the high life expectancy and quality of health care in Cuba are explained by the ethics of the workers themselves. The tremendous professionalism and dedication of healthcare workers are so high that they visit neighboring countries to practice. Medicine in Cuba overcomes technical shortcomings and imperfections due to the high moral code of doctors.

A funeral in Cuba is an immediate process that is necessary due to the hot weather, so they are free in the country. Also, in Cuba, there are holidays that strongly express the spirit of our culture, such as the February Cigar Festival, Revolution Day. Cuba is renowned for its eclectic cuisine, which is influenced by the ethnic dishes of Spain and Africa. Also, in Cuba, there are holidays that strongly express the spirit of our culture, such as the February Cigar Festival, Revolution Day. Cuba is renowned for its eclectic cuisine, which is influenced by the ethnic dishes of Spain and Africa. Religious influences and ways of life in Cuba exist under the influence of Catholicism and the special syncretic religion of Santeria.

Thus, many cultural and social factors, which are in constant interaction, shape the level of health care in a particular region with its own unique characteristics. The cultural specificity of the region can be constructed from ideological or religious ideas within the framework of socio-cultural norms. The task of a professional doctor is to be able to take into account these particulars and features and to be able to provide the most effective treatment without openly violating the cultural boundaries of another person.


Orgel, H. (2017). Improving LGBT cultural competence in nursing students: An integrative review. The ABNF Journal 28(1), 14-18.

Sharifi, N., Adib-Hajbaghery, M., Najafi, M. (2019). Cultural competence in nursing: A concept analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies 99. Web.

Yoshida, Y., Scribner, R., Chen, L., Broyles, S., Phillippi, S., and Tseng, T.-S. (2017). Diet quality and its relationship with central obesity among Mexican Americans. Public Health Nutrition 20(7), 1193 – 1202. Web.

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NursingBird. 2022. "Cultural Competence in American Healthcare." September 1, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "Cultural Competence in American Healthcare." September 1, 2022.


NursingBird. "Cultural Competence in American Healthcare." September 1, 2022.