patient and nurses in hospital room
The School of Nursing Symposium showed short video skits with strategies for handling transcultural barriers.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo School of Nursing (SON) scrambled to move its 16th annual Transcultural Nursing Symposium to a virtual format in March in the midst of the pandemic. The event showcased the foundational framework SON instills in its students to have a broad understanding of the various cultures in healthcare environments.

According to SON, communication barriers that encompass everything from language to religious practices can lead to decreased care quality and even patient harm.

“It is crucial to train students in transcultural nursing so that they may provide culturally competent care,” said SON Professor Katharyn Daub. “Understanding many different cultures increases the nurses’ awareness of caring for others of diverse cultures.”

During the symposium, students were shown short video skits highlighting strategies nurses utilize when they encounter a number of barriers. One of the skits featured steps a nurse took to find a way to communicate with a patient that spoke primarily in Japanese.

UH Hilo nursing students create skit about language barrier obstacles.

SON students were also shown videos about religious barriers and stereotyping. The skits were put together by senior nursing students Gregory Zukeran and Shantel Bolosan and featured student actors from the UH Hilo Performing Arts Department.

Following the symposium, SON students completed evaluation questions and 84 percent indicated feeling better prepared to serve diverse populations and implement culturally congruent communication.

—By Moanikeʻala Nabarro