An RN has just graduated from nursing school and received her license; now she is working on a medical floor in a hospital. In school she learned about different cultures and races and about the diverse population with which she will be coming into contact as a healthcare worker. However, she now faces a situation outside of her experience. Today she has encountered a patient in whose medical record the space for racial classification has been left blank. For this reason, she is confused about which term to use in reference to this patient’s race. By his appearance she might assume that he is African American, but she has no idea where he or his ancestors might have lived prior to coming to the U.S. The nurse knows that it is important to know what race the patients are because of medical implications that may occur with certain races and because of social and cultural traits that affect her role in getting and accurate information from the patient. In this case she also wants to avoid causing offense to the patient, his family, and perhaps some of her co-workers.
Question 1: How should you handle this situation? What is the best terminology to use when speaking of this patient and other patients of color?
Question 2: Share with your classmates any clinical experience you have had with African American. (Focus on any cultural or biologic characteristic that influenced his/her care or disease status).
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