Immersion Experience #3
Saint Petersburg College
Nurses act as patient/client or “consumer” advocates. To do so, a nurse must at a minimum, listen; to do so well a nurse must do more than listen, a nurse must truly understand. When the client is of a different culture or ethnicity this becomes a challenge, as culturally appropriate or competent care is necessary and there are many differences between cultures. One way to enhance cultural competency is through immersion. Immersion can increase awareness of personal beliefs, values, behaviors, and learning from clients (Maltby, & Abrams, 2009). In this assignment we were to immerse ourselves in the culture we have been studying by spending six or more hours observing group cultural interactions. The purpose was to then synthesize the learning from this experience with that of Immersion Experience One and Two, thereby increasing our awareness and ability to provide culturally competent care.
Description of Group Experiences
The subculture I chose to learn about through these immersion experiences is homeless people. I enjoyed two separate experiences in which I had the opportunity to observe, interact and learn from this subculture. The first experience was at Beacon House, preparing and serving a meal to low income and homeless people, and the second was at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Health Center which functions as an urgent care clinic for adults aged
18–64, many of whom are homeless. Beacon House
Beacon House is a temporary and transitional shelter offering 30 beds to single, homeless men. Per Yolanda Giovannetti, the Director of Beacon House, they served over 35,000 free meals in 2010 and provided over 9,500 nights of shelter to homeless men. Beacon House also functions as a community kitchen, where free dinner is served six nights a week to people in the community that are hungry. You do not have to be staying at Beacon House to receive a free meal -- you just have to be hungry. I assisted in cooking and serving a dinner on a Monday night. The eating area is clean and bright with separate tables covered in colorful tablecloths. Simple chairs are provided, though I noticed some people chose to eat standing up. The kitchen is stocked with adequate food, cooking supplies, serving dishes and cleaning supplies, the majority of which has been donated. The labor to prepare, serve and clean up afterwards is provided by clients of Beacon House, individual volunteers and volunteer groups. The evening I assisted there was a group of volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist (U.U.) Church. They come once a week to Beacon House to provide meals and are very involved in the other services provided there (providing clothes, personal hygiene items, etc.). I arrived at 3pm to start preparing the meal. By 4pm there was about 15 people lined up outside for dinner. We served dinner at 5pm to everyone that showed up, about 45 people. The meal consisted of spaghetti and meatballs a salad, cookies, bananas, and coffee, milk or water. During this experience I noticed the majority of the people being served were homeless Caucasian, middle-aged men, slim or underweight; many claimed they were veterans. There was about 15 or so African American men that came in for dinner as well and most of them were also homeless and many claimed they were veterans. I did notice that the two different ethnic groups did not sit together during the meal. I am not sure if this was prejudice or merely preference as many of the men seemed to know each other and appeared friendly. There was no arguments or violence and no overt intoxication or behavior indicative of drug use. I tried to interact with the people being served as much as possible and found that some were very open and some preferred not to interact or even make eye contact. Ethnicity and language did not appear to be a barrier for our interactions, and although some chose not to...
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