"You've Got the Power"

Power represents an essential distinction between cultural competence and cultural safety. Healthcare providers should reflect on interpersonal power differences and acknowledge the power differences between nurses and patients.

Cultural safety requires healthcare professionals and organisations to improve healthcare, facilitate patient access to healthcare, and achieve equity within the workforce.

Our new publication in BMC Nursing demonstrates that diverse cultures are encountered in German-speaking healthcare settings. Yet, cultural safety is also about healthcare staff, as nurses with different socialisations encounter prejudice, discrimination and racism.

The study demonstrates that the service to the patient according to the principle of Christian charity is in the foreground, strictly maintaining the attitude that the doctors order the interventions and the nurses perform them. In many cases, there is still a lack of awareness of one’s own professional role and the power it entails in the relationship between patient and nurse.

Although the issue of power was not discussed, academic nurses were willing to make an effort to change. Only a minority were aware that lasting change requires challenging one’s own cultural structures and adapted behaviours, rather than pushing for the mere acquisition of cultural competence.

Organisations were encouraged to introduce self-reflection sessions and provide better access to translation services to improve equity and support nurses.