have long been marginalized and, as a result of various historical events, some have formed a great mistrust of the healthcare system (Simonds, Christopher, Sequist, Colditz, & Rudd, 2011). These trust issues have put a great strain on the patient-practitioner relationship, and have created barriers to providing culturally competent healthcare (Simonds et al., 2011). In a case study of patient-practitioner relationships on the Crow reservation in southern Montana, one of the greatest barriers found to quality care was the lack of diversity among healthcare staff, given that they were often non-indigenous and did not understand the significance and cultural meanings of certain actions/interactions as interpreted by their patients (Simonds et al., 2011). Recommendations that came from this study included increasing communication between parties to increase the provider’s cultural understanding, the patient’s procedural understanding, and the greater inclusion of native practitioners (Simonds et al., …show more content…
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only approximately 0.3% of total registered nurses self-identify as Native American or Alaskan Native (as cited in Cech et al., 2011). However, at Montana State University-Bozeman (MSU), there is an institutionalized Native American support program, called CO-OP, which is designed specifically to provide culturally appropriate support to Native American nursing students (Cech, et al., 2011). This particular support structure has increased retention rates for Native American nursing students, and is attributed with increased enrollment (Cech, et al., 2011). Additionally, it gives students culturally appropriate support during a difficult period in their life, thus allowing students to build bridges between their culture and profession, and incorporate their concept of self and care into practice (Cech, et al., 2011).
Potential Impact on Professional Nursing
The impact of actively including Native American nurses has potential for increasing positive health outcomes for Native American populations, as it can build much-needed trust and facilitate culturally competent care. In a study done by Katz, O’Neil, Strickland, and Doutrich (2010), many Native American nurses were committed to using a holistic approach to serve their communities as leaders and role models, and focused