My acculturation experience as a novice nurse
I recently decided to switch careers into nursing. I have always
been in the forensic or death industry. I had always wanted a be a nurse so I
decided to make the change. My acculturation experience was rather drastic
coming from the line of work that I was in before. I do not necessarily have to
be as gentle in the morgue.
For my first and current nursing job, I was hired as a per diem
employee through an agency. I started in January of 2020. My assignments
are mostly one on one with a child at their school. I really love working with
children, it is a field of nursing that most interest me. The biggest adjustment
for me was a language barrier. Most of the schools that I was sent to had
patients that spoke in Spanish as their primary language. Communication is a
fundamental component of cross-cultural care encounters. (Maria
Jirwe, Kate Gerrish, and Azita Emami (2010)) This was a major adjustment
for me because I had to use my judgement based off of facial expressions or
translation from a teacher. I often had to wait for a teacher or staff member
to become available to help me speak with my patient. In the end it became a
routine for me. I learned who to ask and when to ask them.
I also had schools where the children were non verbal or faced with
learning disabilities. I had never worked with a disabled population before
and I did not know what to expect. Children with intellectual and
developmental disabilities (I,DD) may belong to a minority culture, the
additional culture of disability, and a culture of poverty. (Nehring (2007)) I once had a patient who was autistic,
non verbal, and diabetic. I was with this particular patient several times. He
took some getting use to, but I found a way to communicate with him.
Although he was non-verbal her was very comprehensive and helped me in
his own way.
When I got sent out on these assignments I went alone. I was not
trained with a nurse by my side. I had the phone number of the supervising
nurse if I had any questions. That was very new for me. I was use to a formal
training time period in which I had to be comfortable with a skill before I was
able to do it alone. I was very nervous when I got my first assignment. The
agency assured me that it would not be a difficult case for my first time. They
were right, my first cases was a very simple laid back case. I believe it is what
gave me the confidence that I needed to continue doing the job. I can not tell
the experience of a new nurse that has joined our staff because we all worked
Nehring, Wendy M. (2007) Considerations for Children With Intellectual
and Developmental Disabilities.
Jirwe, Maria, Gerrish, Kate, and Emami, Azita (2010) Student Nurses’
Experiences of Communication in Cross-Culture Care Encounters.
Describe your acculturation experience as a new graduate to the culture of the nursing profession. How is it similar or different from the acculturation experience of a new nursing colleague who joined your team within the past year?
Due to the global health crisis caused by COVID-19, I currently work at my family’s property management company. My opinions on the matter will be solely based on prior clinical experiences. My closest experience of being a new graduate nurse experiencing acculturation would come from my practicum at a medical-surgical unit at Homestead Hospital. At this facility, I was able to experience my closest experience of being a registered nurse in the workforce. To begin, one must have a better understanding of the topic and have a better understanding of what acculturation is. According to Lois Ritter, an expert in cultural and social anthropology, acculturation is best defined as the extent to which one cultural group adopts the beliefs and behaviors of another (Ritter, 2017 p. 10). The experiences of acculturation I had were firmly based on broader altruistic beliefs and general mannerisms.
Most of my experiences with acculturation of the nursing culture happened during my practicum. At the start of my internship, I was an enthusiastic student waiting to use what I learned throughout my schooling experience. The start of transitioning from a student to a professional made me think of the best ways to present myself to patients and fellow staff. This transition entailed providing an understanding environment for all patients, providing quality care, and, most importantly, being a patient advocate. During my first day, my preceptor helped me acclimate to the nursing realm. She helped explain the hospital systems and protocols; most importantly, she showed me the importance of cooperation and collaboration in the nursing team. Events during this period which helped me assimilate to nursing culture include: having multiple nurses teach me new techniques to perform specific tasks more quickly and effectively, observing other nurses assist backed up nurses with patients, witnessing these same nurses collaborating with coworkers on how to deal with certain patient conditions, and viewing these nurses play vital roles as patient advocates. During this experience, I met a new graduate from a different university completing her orientation training on the same medical-surgical floor. During my month stay, we discussed the differences between schooling to the real world of nursing. We discussed the importance of teamwork and collaboration and felt at ease, knowing we were in a supportive career.
The nurses in that medical-surgical unit helped demonstrate the caring and understanding nature of the nursing culture; with their help, I was able to assimilate. My coworker was able to get a better understanding and feel for the culture as well. Ultimately, nurses strive to help their patients and colleagues. Their desire to help people, better known as altruism, is ultimately the true definition of nursing culture (Black, 2017 p. 53).