1. Section Editor(s): Davis, Charlotte BSN, RN, CCRN

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As nurses, we provide care for a culturally diverse patient population. We treat patients who vary in shapes, sizes, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, health, ability, education, expressive traits, and linguistic styles. We must be careful to look beyond what we physically see and hear when caring for our patients.

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In recent years, I've had the privilege of providing care for a farmer who infrequently visits our hospital. He has a master's degree in business and a PhD in philosophy. This gentleman owns over 40,000 acres of farmland and provides full-time employment for over 250 local citizens. His multimillion-dollar status is something he doesn't outwardly display; his clothing usually consists of well-worn overalls, dusty from farm work. He has made large donations to our hospital to help expand it to meet the community's healthcare needs. One day he presented to our facility with a deep laceration extending from his wrist to the palm of his hand that he sustained in a farm accident.


One of our new nurses took a long look at the older gentleman in faded overalls and tersely said, "I'm sure you probably don't have health insurance and I need to let you know that if you want lidocaine, it will likely cost you over a hundred dollars on your hospital bill. You'll need to set up a financial arrangement with our accounts department for your services today." How do you think that nurse's narrow-minded comment affected this patient?


He was insulted and embarrassed, and asked the nurse three questions that I've never forgotten: "Should it matter what I physically look like or what my accent is?" Should it matter if I'm heavily tattooed or if my religious beliefs vary from yours? "Does any of that matter? Because at the end of the day, I'm simply a patient seeking help from you."


As we provide care for our growing and diverse population, we'll see the cultural, generational, and physical uniqueness of each patient we encounter. We should all ask ourselves: "Does any of that matter?"


I invite you to join us for this special issue celebrating diversity. In its pages, you'll find articles meant to spark your thinking about how to provide culturally competent and sensitive care. We give you a place to start when caring for nontraditional families (page 14), patients with disabilities (page 20), transgender patients (page 28), religiously diverse patients (page 38), and patients with tattoos and body piercings (page 48). You'll also get tips for communicating with patients whose first language isn't English (page 6), how to promote staff member diversity within our organizations (page 10), and how to meet the spiritual needs of our LGBTQ patients (page 54).


Our profession was founded on providing receptive, welcoming, and holistic care to each and every patient, and we should never waiver from that core foundation. Are you up to the challenge? Let's get started!


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