Augsburg’s graduate students who study transcultural nursing are learning how to provide better health care for immigrants and underserved populations who are out of the social mainstream. They’re learning how to understand and be sensitive to people’s differing cultural values and traditions around health, wellness, and healing.
The concept of transcultural nursing was developed by nurse theorist and anthropologist Madeleine Leininger, who founded the international Transcultural Nursing Society.
From September 24-27, several hundred people will gather in Minneapolis for the society’s 34th annual conference around the theme “Voices of Hope: Indigenous Wisdom and Transcultural Nursing.” The objectives are to explore the impact of indigenous wisdom in nursing and to analyze the intersection of hope and human rights in supporting health and well-being worldwide.
The conference has been organized by Augsburg nursing department chair and professor Cheryl Leuning, current president of the Transcultural Nursing Society, and nursing faculty member Katherine Baumgartner, who is vice president.
Conference keynote speaker Selma Shejevali has worked many years with the Lutheran Church in Namibia teaching and training others about culture in ways to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS and violence against women and children. Other speakers come from Native traditions and will discuss the sharing of cultural knowledge and the consideration of indigenous knowledge as sacred.
The transcultural nursing track in Augsburg’s Master of Arts in Nursing program has been growing, as more nurses realize the importance and the need to provide care appropriate to patients’ cultural values and traditions.
An important aspect of the program is getting nurses out of their specialization or classroom into practice experiences in nontraditional settings. In downtown Minneapolis, at the Augsburg Central Nursing Center, nursing students can help persons struggling with homelessness and poverty. Students can also spend several days on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation or in study abroad experiences in Mexico, Guatemala, and Namibia.
Baumgartner says that the students are often deeply affected by these experiences, and find ways to fit several practica into their programs — and even to return to the same place. Their own nursing practice becomes enriched by these crosscultural experiences, especially when treating patients from these cultures.
“If you find your heart someplace, you find a way to go back there,” Baumgartner says.
For more information about the transcultural nursing conference, go to www.tcns.org.
About the image: The conference image, depicting eternity and the people around the world, was created by Lakota artist Kevin Poor Bear on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The corner horses in the sacred colors of the medicine wheel represent the people around the world. The star is the Great Spirit, the eagle is the messenger, and the warrior sings to the Great Spirit.