Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients

Ethical Dilemmas

It has been acknowledged that Hispanic population in the USA is growing but the number of nurses of the same ethnic background is still very low (Peterson-Iyer, 2008). Therefore, numerous issues associated with cultural differences (as well as linguistic problems) occur. It is also important to add that nurses are trained in terms of American values that has a significant impact on the way healthcare services are provided. Thus, some practices can be in conflict with patients’ beliefs and values. Clearly, nurses have to solve various ethical dilemmas when providing care to Hispanic population.

One of the ethical dilemmas that can be quite common for nurses working with Hispanic patients is related to the process of decision-making. American nurses are accustomed to the practice when an individual takes the responsibility and makes major decisions by him/herself. In the case with a Hispanic patient (provided he is a young male adult named Alejandro), the nurse should be ready to wait for a decision made by Alejandro’s mother (Peterson-Iyer, 2008). Although Alejandro is a grown-up man, who is expected to make decisions by himself, in Hispanic families, major decisions are made by mothers or, in some cases, by the entire family. Hence, the nurse should not provide information on the patient’s health to the patient only, as he is unlikely to make decisions. The nurse should respect that and consult with the family in many cases. To be ready to act in the cases of emergency, the nurse should consider discussing advance directives with the patient and his family. It is important for the nurse to explain all possible outcomes of this or that treatment in detail so that the family could come up with the right decision.

Purnell Model for Cultural Competence

The Purnell Model for Cultural Competence is presented in the form of a circle divided into a number of segments. There are several rims in the circle. They represent the global society, community, the family and the person. The circle is also divided into 12 cultural domains. These twelve domains include heritage, communication, family roles, work issues, bicultural ecology, high-risk behaviors, nutrition, childbearing and pregnancy, death rituals, spirituality, health care practices and health care practitioner (Purnell, 2014). Application of this model can help evaluate the patient’s needs and expectations. It can also help the nursing practitioner understand some personal peculiarities.

It is possible to apply the model to evaluate Hispanic population. Of course, it is necessary to remember that overgeneralization can lead to mistakes but there are still many traits in common among patients with this ethnic background (Sagar, 2011). When applying the model, the nurse can ask certain questions based on the 12 domains (Purnell, 2014). Sagar (2011) provides a brief account of application of the model with Hispanic population. It becomes clear that Hispanic patients tend to avoid eye-contact with nurses (especially younger patients) as this is a way to show respect. These patients can also have linguistic issues as they often speak English poorly. Hispanic patients do not usually have check-ups and they tend to go to hospital when their health conditions are quite alarming. This population is also vulnerable to such risk behaviors as smoking and drinking. These patients often fail to have healthy lifestyles due to financial constraints. They also rarely have health insurance. Hispanic patients are very religious and they may need to place some crosses or other symbols near their beds. Of course, nurses have to take into account these peculiarities when dealing with Hispanic patients. Nursing professionals may obtain a lot of information from various resources and they can learn a lot from communicating with patients (colleagues) having Hispanic background.

Reference List

Peterson-Iyer, K. (2005). Culturally competent care for Latino patients: Introduction. Web.

Purnell, L.D. (2014). Guide to culturally competent health care. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.

Sagar, P. (2011). Transcultural nursing theory and models: Application in nursing education, practice and administration. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

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NursingBird. (2022, April 3). Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients. Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2022, April 3). Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients.

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"Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients." NursingBird, 3 Apr. 2022,


NursingBird. (2022) 'Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients'. 3 April.


NursingBird. 2022. "Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients." April 3, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients." April 3, 2022.


NursingBird. "Ethical Dilemmas of Nurses Working With Hispanic Patients." April 3, 2022.