Reflections of Second Year Nursing Students in Australia on Improving Their Cultural Competence in Relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Monday, 28 July 2014: 8:50 AM

Glenda E. McDonald, PhD, BSocSc
School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South NSW 1797, Australia
Leanne Hunt, RN
School of Nursing & Midwifery, Univeristy of Western Sydney, South Penrith DC 1797 NSW 1797, Australia
Sharon Patricia Hillege, RN, RM, BHS, PGCert, PhD
School of Nursing & Midwifery, The University of Western Sydney, Penrith South DC NSW 2751, Australia


Nursing students around the world require the capacity to provide nursing care in a culturally competent manner, given the complex patterns of migration and the increasingly multicultural nature of our societies and health system populations.  In particular, nursing students need to understand the social and political aspects of majority and minority groups within societies and the impact they have on health access and outcomes. 


 This qualitative research study investigated the development of cultural competence in 76 culturally diverse, second-year nursing students in a metropolitan region of Australia, while they studied a compulsory unit about Australian Indigenous health issues.  Students were asked to reflect on the development of their cultural competence and propose ways they could personally engage in culturally competent nursing care.  Thematic analysis of two reflective writing excerpts from a workbook assessment task, denoting an earlier and later phase of student learning, was conducted.


Major themes were revealed of students’ improved knowledge of the social, historical and cultural determinants of health for Australian Indigenous peoples, and greater confidence in their abilities to communicate sensitively and provide culturally competent health care.  Findings revealed additional insights about self-awareness and critical reflection in nursing education, and the role of narrative reflective strategies in the enhancement of cultural competence skills.   

Conclusion: The implications for future nursing practice and the educational relevance of acknowledging one’s own cultural filters and visualizing personal propositions for malparara – people working and walking together as friends – will be highlighted.