Fostering Cultural Competency: The Pennsylvania Action Coalition’s Exemplar

Friday, 28 July 2017: 3:10 PM

Sarah Hexem, JD
National Nurse-LED Care Consortium, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Rita K. Adeniran, DrNP
Consultation, Innovative and Inclusive Global Solutions (IIGS), Drexel Hill, PA, USA
Diana Jones, EdD, MS
College of Health, Environment and Science,, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA, USA

Demographic trends, multiculturalism, pluralism, human, cultural, and system diversity are some of the dynamics that are changing the profile of the America populace to a more diverse society (Like, 2011). This reality presents opportunities for all leaders in the nation. Visionary leaders committed to making a positive difference, must see the transformation from these dynamics as opportunities rather than threats. Leaders can initiate programs to promote equity, improve quality, reduce and ultimately eliminate the long-standing disparities in health and healthcare. For example, in the United States, evidence suggest that blacks, when compared to their white counterparts, had higher death rates from cancer, stroke and heart disease, and experience twice the incident of infant mortality (Rossen & Schoendorf, 2014).These statistics at minimum are disturbing, deserving leadership attention and plan for sustainable solutions. Cultural competence has gained national and international attention as a strategy to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and healthcare; accentuating the importance of providers’ training and the recruitment of culturally diverse health professionals to achieve optimal outcomes (Henry, 2011). The benefits of increasing numbers of traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in the medical profession is also identified as a strategy to reduce healthcare disparities. A higher proportion of traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic professionals in the healthcare workforce increase the likelihood of concordance between patients and providers, a phenomenon proven to improve patients’ adherence to treatments. Further, cultural competence training programs for all health care providers enhances their appreciation of the influence of cultural patients’ ethnomedical beliefs, world views, culturally prescribed values, religion, gender specific status and roles on health care and treatment adherence(Delgado et al., 2013; Donaldson & Vacha-Haase, 2016).

Recognizing that health and healthcare disparities remain a challenge in the United States, the Nursing Diversity Council (NDC) of the Pennsylvania Action Coalition (PA-AC) that comprised of leaders in and outside of healthcare are working collaboratively to mitigate disparities. The PA-AC NDC’s mission is to increase diversity throughout healthcare and the nursing profession, endeavoring to ensure that “all Americans have access to high-quality, patient-centered care in a health care system where nurses contribute as essential partners in achieving success.” Members of the NDC are driven by their conviction to advance healthcare for ALL in Pennsylvania and guided by the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report recommendations. Strategies employed to achieve the NDC mission include the development and adoption of an overarching diversity and cultural competence strategic plan to guide program implementation. To date, several aspects of the strategic plan have been implemented, of note are:

- Creation and adoption of a gracious space philosophy to guide members’ work relationships

- Analysis and report of findings of the Pennsylvania Registered Nurses demographic profile that revealed opportunities for increasing gender, racial and ethnicity diversity of RNs in the Pennsylvania nursing workforce

- Development of a variety of videos that showcased individual nurse reflections on nursing from different vantage points; and nurse-led care as well as videos that specifically target recruitment of traditionally underrepresented minority youths and adults to choose nursing as a profession or second career

- Partner with philanthropic organizations and other stakeholders to raise funds to support mentoring for nursing students and leaders from traditional underrepresented minority groups

- Partner with individual leaders with funding to conduct statewide assessment that ascertained RNs desire, levels of cultural competency preparedness and education, and the availability or lack of resources in Pennsylvania healthcare organizations to provide culturally competent care

- Implementation of a statewide cultural competence education and training program delivered by nationally and regionally recognized experts in the field of cultural competency

Nurses, the single largest segment of healthcare professionals, have the unique opportunity to make sustainable change that improves the overall health care of society. The PA-AC NDC has been working conscientiously to improve quality healthcare for ALL Pennsylvania by bolstering the nursing workforce to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve, as well as enhancing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of nurses through cultural competence education and training programs