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Uncomfortable with cultural issues class

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So, today was our religious and cultural awareness day in my nursing fundamentals class. Love that they're trying to increase our awareness of cultural considerations when teaching patients. That's always a good thing!

However, then they divvied us up into groups of 4 and gave each group of us a "cultural group" to represent, with only 5-6 bullet points of information per group to work from. We had to perform skits, and the rest of the class had to guess which cultural group we were based on the skit.

We're a class of 37 white people. 2 white guys, and 3 Asian women.

These skits were basically a reinforcement of stereotypes based on the bullet point information. For example of the bullet points... music and family were really important, but time was not important hardly at all to African Americans. I was incredibly uncomfortable with how they decided to "teach" this. Basically, the ignorant teaching the ignorant and repeating ignorance. I was pretty offended, actually, and I'm fairly easy going.

Thoughts on this? Especially from you instructor types? I feel that this was not an appropriate way to gain better understanding of cultures at all... if anything, it only widened the understanding gap and reinforced the paltry level of knowledge as "great" because my primary instructor and the head of the program thought the skits were "wonderful."

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Wendy

CO EMT-B

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Sorry, I have a thick head...... What happened?

You had too act out steriotypes?

Examples?

Where is Crotchity on this one......

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We got divided into groups of 4. Each group was given a cultural group. The info we were given about each group consisted of 4-5 bullet points. Factoids, if you will. We had to come up with a skit in a "clinical setting" where some of us pretended to be from that cultural group (Jewish, Islamic, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese, Anglo, African American, Native American) while others pretended to be clinical personnel. Based on the skit, the REST of the class had to guess which cultural group we were.

It was basically a giant stereotype-fest... as all the info we had was our base knowledge (not much for most) and our bullet points. For example, the "Islamic man" yelled "Don't touch my wife" at people and the "wife" was wrapped up in scarves...

It got worse than that... what I want to know is how this could have possibly seemed like a good idea from an educational standpoint. Nobody learned anything! And, to boot, we enacted and reinforced stereotypes!

Wendy

CO EMT-B

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Interesting discussion, Wendy.

My short answer is that this is simply part of the game of nursing school. It's just one of those hoops through which you must jump to reach your goal.

As a longer answer, this could be taken a couple of ways. You could recognize it for the reinforcement of stereotypes that you think it played out to be. Or you could take that recognition of stereotypes that made you feel uncomfortable and roll that into your own learning/approach to cultural differences... a learning in spite of them approach.

We had a similar lecture last fall. While we had no skits to perform, there were some pretty clear misconceptions and stereotypes held by both lecturers and students. The best we could do is take what we could and make the most of it.

To directly answer your question regarding my thoughts on the approach taken by faculty, I can't say I would've approached it the same way. I certainly wouldn't have approached it the same way given the lack of diversity within your program. Which takes me back to playing the academic game of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there. It's really tough to play along but sometimes that's just what you gotta do. And since you know what I'm doing right now I can tell you it's the same game to play regardless of the program of study you're pursuing.

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Is it possible that they wanted you to experience what it feels like to labeled with a stereo type? Perhaps later it will be used to discuss the value of not being stuck with preconcieved ideals but still be willing/able to adapt to your patients actual beliefs.

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The saddest part of this all is that it's now 2011 and we still need to be taught how to be decent human beings to people who don't share the same religion, culture or color as us.

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I am here, all you have to do is say my name three times like beetlejuice. Good point beiber, you are correct, it is sad that this is such a racist country. Now before you all get mad, let me check the dictionary; racist: The notion that ones own ethnic stock is superior.

Most everyone in this room is racist, but can't admit it. Here is a little self-test that I have mentioned several times, but cant get anyone to fess up to. To see if you are racist, ask this question to yourself: If I am white, have i ever dated or made love to an african american ? If you are african american, have I ever dated or made love to a white person ? If the answer is no, you are a racist. Even if you are non-racist enough to have done the deed, you would never admit it in this forum for fear of how you will be judged ? Which may make you more racist than the person that never has.

Furthermore, every guy in here at some point in his life has done the fattest, ugliest chick (of his own race) because he was hard up and drunk, but never seems drunk enough to cross the jungle-fever line (what does that say) ? Fortunately, the women are a little more decerning, as far as number of partners, but just as racist as thier male counterparts.

And please spare me all the comments about how you are best friends with the one AA person at your workplace. You have never had dinner at his/her house, or invited them to yours (at least 98% of you have not).

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So someone who has had sex with a person of another ethnic background isn't a racist?

This is the dumbest, most inane, ridiculous logic you have thrown out here. And you have really thrown out some stupid ideas before.

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I have no problem with the exercise that was presented- as long as the instructor facilitated a good discussion after it. Unless the issue of stereotypes, bias, and prejudice was dealt with- at least in terms of nursing care, it would have served little purpose other than making some folks uncomfortable.

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I to have completed cultural subjects within my nursing curriculum but it certainly was not as ‘practical’ as you describe Wendy. I agree with Bieber on his above comment but I sometimes find myself a little confronted by some cultures and struggle to accept what I see. I never let my professionalism cloud my judgement or the way I treat people but sometimes I come home and just think, wow, what the hell just happened today.

I really don’t see the point of getting the nursing class to role play as you describe, I really can not see the learning advantage with that. There are certainly better ways to educate and promote cultural awareness. Maybe if they let you spend a day with a family from a different culture and then report your findings or something similar to that would seem more beneficial. Our cultural class merely consisted of a few lectures, a talk from a person from a different culture, some group activities then we were allocated an assignment were we researched a culture and reported our findings to the class. This was all based around just heightening our awareness and acceptance of different cultures as we come across them in our job and how to deal with certain situations.

I work at a hospital which services quiet a diverse and multicultural population, I like to think I’m an extremely open minded, easy going and accepting person but as I mentioned above, sometimes I struggle. I do a lot of work in the paediatric and emergency departments of this hospital, this certain culture practises incestuous activities as part of there normal relationships, we often have kids coming through with major deficits, abnormalities, deformities and various health conditions related to the they were conceived – often the children have a short life expectancy. I remain very mutual and professional when dealing with these families as I believe everyone is entitled to quality healthcare and after all, its just a family dealing with a sick child, they need help and support as much as the next person. One shift I was caring for this child, possibly feeding it by a NGT, chatting to the family when the mother asked me why I wasn’t married to my sister and thinking about having a child. First of all I don’t have a sister but that’s beside the point. I really didn’t know what to say while all the family were staring at me waiting for an answer, they really did catch me by surprise. I ended up just laughed it off and joking that I didn’t have a sister so it wouldn’t be a problem … I come from a very Australian, farming background so having those sort of questions asked was just so out of the ordinary and something I’m really not use to.

We also have another group of ethnic people here. I struggle to deal with this group even more than the above. They complain that we don’t treat them right and are discriminative, the government hands them welfare packages in order to provide them with basic services and necessities but they insist on spending it on alcohol and other things and choose to live in dilapidate conditions. I’m not at all being racist here, I can show you the statics and data on there healthcare, living conditions, attitudes, unemployment rate and what not. They come into work and demand to be seen immediately, there almost always intoxicated and abusive, they throw chairs and beer bottles at the triage window and yell extremely offensive things at us. When we do treat them there very unappreciative and expect us to organise extra social benefits. There at increased risk of chronic health conditions but do nothing to help themselves. I’ve been assaulted by these people at work on a few occasions, once a man cut himself rubbed his hand in his blood then purposefully scratched me resulting in an occupational exposure. They roam the streets in gangs causing trouble and despite as much help as we give them nothing improves. Now, saying this, of course there are people who fall into this ethnic category who are functional and well respected members of the community but we give and they just take, there is no reasonability on there part to improve the way they live and that just makes me angry.

I guess at the end of the day nothing they can teach you in class will totally change your mind about other ethnic groups, merely increase your awareness, acceptance and to maintain a professional boundary when dealing with there complex social situations.

Edited by Timmy

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