Ethical Leadership and Cultural Competence in a Healthcare Setting

Ethical Leadership and Cultural Competence in a Healthcare Setting

Ethics is among the foundations of nursing practice in various healthcare settings (Grace, 2017). Over the years, decisions regarding primary, secondary, and even tertiary levels of health care have been developed on the basis of ensuring that all the processes and professionals attending to a patient follow ethical guidelines and regulations of the practice. This makes ethics a central element in the growth and development of healthcare in the current generation. In as much as ethics becomes a central element in the development and enhancements of nursing as a practice, cultural factors of the patients also become a central focus in determining the way nurses relate to the patients irrespective of their background or ethnicity. Shen (2015) defines cultural competency as a set of principles that instigate or influence specific policies, characters, structures, and even attitudes of nurses across the different cultures as a way to ensure efficiency in terms of offering care to the patients. In addition, cultural competency is developed from the ethical boundaries and balances that consider the differences among patients. This paper discusses the importance and application of both ethics and cultural competence within a healthcare setting taking into consideration the benefits that patients get to benefit from the incorporation of these principles in health care.

Ethics in Healthcare

Ethics in nursing as a practice is defined as a set of principles that also define the values and beliefs of nurses as professionals (Goetghebeur et al., 2015). The integration of these policies and values in the nursing practice is meant to guide nurses in decision-making processes when dealing with a patient or to decide about the best outcomes that a patient can be assured as treatment commences. However, ethics is also a blueprint in the determination of the rights and wrongs of a nurse while attending to a patient through taking into consideration the rights and beliefs of the practice while dispensing their roles. There are six ethical principles that nurses get to implement and apply in their everyday association with patients. These are fairness, justice, truthfulness, beneficence, respect/ autonomy, and nonmaleficence.

In any healthcare setting, a nurse is obligated to work as per the rules and standards of their work (Parahoo, 2014). This eliminates any action that is influenced by a form of discrimination or bias. As such, when a nurse starts to attend to a patient, his or her objective is meant to ensure that the patient receives the best of care irrespective of the patient’s status or background. Any judgment that a nurse makes for one patient suffering from CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) should only differ from the medical recommendation for another patient suffering from the same disease if the patient exhibits a different symptom or is at an advanced stage of the disease. When it comes to justice as an ethical principle, a nurse has to take into consideration fair distribution of resources, rights/ obligations, competing needs, and the potential conflicts with the already established legislations. Any medical approach considered by a nurse should not be specific to an individual, but rather the outcome should aim at benefiting or increasing the healthcare situation in the community.

Similarly, a nurse has the obligation of providing a patient with the right medical outcomes or recommendations in terms of treatment (Parahoo, 2014). As treatment commences, a nurse is supposed to ensure that all the information regarding the type of treatment and the related elements are conveyed to the patient before any action or decision is made. Consent becomes a pillar in the determination of whether a nurse has been truthful to the patient. Any signature or decision during treatment has to be a decision or form of agreement between the patient and the nurse or physician attending to them. Concealing any information could lead to a legal action against the physician if at the completion of treatment the patient develops additional complications due to the side effects of a treatment approach taken by the medical practitioner.

The principle of beneficence is based on ensuring that all the actions of nurses are aimed at ensuring that the patient is given the best of treatment with the intent of preserving their lives rather than further complicating the issue (Parahoo, 2014). As a nurse starts treating a patient, it becomes his or her role to determine the best treatment options that can be applied in treating the patients and attaining the best outcomes. The nurse will ensure that the necessary data or information regarding a particular treatment option is collected prior to the beginning of the treatment to ensure that as it is applied, the best outcomes can be guaranteed. Similarly, there is the principle of nonmaleficence, which obligates the nurses and other healthcare providers to ensure that any medical option or procedure applied during treatment does not expose the patient to any form of harm. The perception of the greater good does not apply in any approach used by a medical practitioner that increases the complication of a patient or possibly leads to the development of other complications.

Cultural Competence in Nursing

The implementation and practice of cultural competence in a nursing setting are based on the ability of nurses to apply and integrate attitudes, knowledge, and skills that are meant to support and provide care for patients across different cultures (Shen, 2015). Within a healthcare setting, cultural competency is meant to help nurses, and the physicians enhance the accessibility of care, reduce communication barriers, and attain the universality of care for patients seeking medical attention. In some settings, the management can opt to hire nurses from different cultural backgrounds with the objective of increasing its ability to attend to all patients irrespective of their backgrounds or even beliefs. However, there are additional options in increasing cultural competency within a medical institution such as training physicians and nurses on the different beliefs of groups and communities around the region. Exposing the nurses to the different cultures and practices in the region helps them understand and apply these in their interactions with the patients assigned to them. In other settings, the management of the facility establishes a working partnership with the community health workers and other traditional healers who help point out the various approaches they use in treating patients. Combining the two approaches to treatment helps determine the different settings and elements to be included in the treatment of patients. At the same time, the family members of the patients who would prefer a different approach to be used, become less worried about the approaches applied considering that they are involved in the treatment process and even decision-making to ensure that the patient is given the best treatment.


Ethics and cultural competency are some of the trivial elements in the determination of the progress that nursing as a practice has undergone over the years. Nurses are obligated to take into consideration various factors when treating a patient in a way that ensures that the patient is assured the best of cares within the parameters that are acceptable in the nursing setting. Through the integration of the ethical principles and cultural competence, nurses can increase their commitment to patients and enhance their ability to be more involved in ensuring that the patient recovers fully from the time the treatment process begins to the end.






Goetghebeur, M. M., Wagner, M., Bond, K., & Hofmann, B. (2015). Analysis Of Ethical Theories And Principles Embedded In Holistic Mcda: A Primer To Ethics-Based Appraisal Of Value In Healthcare. The value in Health, 18(3), A101.

Grace, P. J. (2017). Nursing ethics and professional responsibility in advanced practice. Burlington, Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Parahoo, K. (2014). Nursing research: principles, process, and issues. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Shen, Z. (2015). Cultural competence models and cultural competence assessment instruments in nursing: a literature review. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 26(3), 308-321.