At AB Staffing, we have job opportunities available across the United States, including the Navajo Nation and Alaska. Understanding the patients you’re treating is essential but can be challenging when caring for patients from a different culture. When it comes to cross-cultural communication as a travel nurse, it is important to have an open mind and be willing to learn.
What is Cross-Cultural Communication?
Simply stated, cross-cultural communication is how people from diverse cultures communicate with each other. The differences may be in their styles of how they work, or nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, and more. Each culture has a set of basic assumptions and solutions shared from generation to generation in writing or word of mouth. It is these stories that guide how one group interacts with another group.
Misunderstandings between these groups can lead to conflicts between individuals or groups.
Systems of communication can be different leading to assumptions in their exchanges.
- Assumption that people are all similar when they may not be.
- Differences in language and context.
- Assumptions about how a particular group will act/react.
- Evaluating another culture solely from the point of view of your own culture.
- Anxiety for those who are unfamiliar with the other culture.
By educating ourselves on diverse cultures, we find ways to communicate and collaborate with one another. Understanding cross-cultural communication as a travel nurse is particularly important to not only managing patient care, but in getting to know your coworkers.
How do travel nurses improve cross-cultural communication?
When travel nurse Lindsey worked in the Navajo Nation, she embraced the culture, learning all she could about the people. Being from the East coast, she hadn’t met Native American people, so she was interested in learning about the people and culture. She attended events and got to know the people. Not only did it enhance her travel experience, but she was also better able to help her patients.
Tips for Improving Cross-cultural Communication
We can learn about ways to improve your travel nurse experience:
- Be open to change. Whether it’s the processes and procedures or the ideas and beliefs of your coworkers and patients, be flexible and open to learning.
- Be open-minded. The attitude of this is how we did it at my last facility won’t go too far as a travel nurse. Just because you learned one way, doesn’t mean the same result can’t be achieved using a different process. Be open-minded to how other cultures care for patients and take that to your next position.
- Facilitate meaningful conversations. Lindsey didn’t simply observe, she talked to Native American people to learn more about their culture and beliefs. Be honest in saying you don’t understand and want to learn more. Ask questions of someone with an unfamiliar perspective. This will increase your appreciation of their reasoning and you will have more experience the next time.
Cross-Cultural Communication in Travel Nursing
The idea of cross-cultural communication in travel nursing is of particular importance when we send you to an IHS facility. These facilities are welcoming to travelers. Keep in mind the culture is similar to that of a small town where nurses are providing care to relatives of their coworkers.
American Indians define health and wellness differently than western medicine. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and substance abuse tend to occur at higher rates in this culture than in others, making it important to be open-minded about how to support these patients. Learning more about alternative medicine and practices in this culture is encouraged as you can make a positive impact as a travel nurse. It is also one of the many reasons that travelers like to take contracts at IHS facilities.
IHS facilities will offer an orientation about the area when you arrive, and AB Staffing will also provide materials for you to review before you go.
If you’re having challenges, talk to your on-site manager as well as your Recruiter so we can connect you to the resources you need to understand cross-cultural communication as a travel nurse.