Cultural Competence and Cultural Safety in Nursing Education A FRAMEWORK FOR FIRST NATIONS, INUIT, AND METIS NURSI NG


The Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) and the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (A.N.A.C.) both recognize the need to increase the presence of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis nurses within the nursing profession (Gregory and Barsky, 2007). To this end, several schools of nursing in Canada have actively engaged in efforts to increase the number of Aboriginal nursing students, particularly in undergraduate programs. These schools are demonstrating success in the recruitment of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people into nursing education. However, as noted in Against: the Odds: An update on Aboriginal nuréng in Canada, there are areas of concern that warrant further action:

  • Thee is a need to better understand the factors affecting the retention of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples who are admitted into nursing programs in Canada. Although the number of Aboriginal nursing students is increasing, the number of students who complete their programs of study remâ ns relatively unknown;
  • All registered nurses, who graduate from nursing programs in Canada, should understand the unique relationships between the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis and the Government of Canada. It is imperative that   graduates from nursing programs comprehend the historical and contemporary contexts of the Aboriginal peoples;
  • Best-practice nursing curricula should prepare Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal graduates who are competent to work with the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Furthermore, such curricula should privilege and respect indigenous knowledge and expose students to these epistemological and ontological foundations; and,
  • There is a need to contemporize the concept of “culturé’ as it is understood and taught within undergraduate nursing programs. Within the education and practice domains, culture is most often understood and practiced in its essentialist form. Culture, from a constructivist perspective, fosters awareness, sensitivity, competence, and moreover the need for cultural safety in the care of clients, including First Nation, Inuit, and Métis people.

Beyond the education sector, employers are also responsible for recruiting and retaining staff to achieve diversity in the workforce that will best meet the health needs of the populations they serve.

Fjola Hart-Wasekeesikaw, RN MN. Published by Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada

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