By Eliza Joy
Congratulations to Dr. Karen de la Cruz! She has been elected as the First Vice-President of the Transcultural Nursing Society (TCNS).
The international organization promotes transcultural education for nurses. This is something very close to Dr. de la Cruz’s heart. “When I was very young, I married a man from a different culture and this was back when interracial marriages were a big deal,” she recalled. “My children are multiracial and I had a lot of issues getting good health care for my kids when they were young because people were really prejudiced. The care they provided to me and my children because I was in an interracial marriage was sketchy at best. And at the worst, it was downright mean and inappropriate.”
A specific example of inappropriate behavior from a healthcare professional came when her kids developed congenital dermal melanocytosis, also known as Mongolian spots. The markings look similar to bruises and clinicians ignorant of this condition were extremely disrespectful to Karen. “I was multiple times accused of child abuse because several of my children have those marks,” she remembered. “I became really particular about the providers I took my kids to. There were doctors that I’m sure were good doctors. But because they weren’t appropriate in their interactions with me, I didn’t trust them, and that was detrimental to my children’s health progress.”
The TCNS hopes to create positive change in the medical world by helping clinicians understand how to appropriately interact with those from other cultures. Culture is not just about those from different racial backgrounds, however. It hopes to bridge all kinds of cultural gaps. From the LGBTQIA+ community to different religious and ethnic groups, there are many ways nurses and doctors can improve their interactions with patients to provide the best possible healthcare.
About how the TCNS exemplifies the Healer’s art, Karen said, “The society gives us the opportunity to see the sameness as well as the differences between us. And I think that’s something that the Lord is so good at. He sees the sameness in us, that we’re all beloved children of God. But he also sees the uniqueness of each one of us and He values those differences and those unique traits. And I just feel in my heart that that is one of the gifts of the Savior: that He can treat the sameness but He can also nurture and support and love and admire and value our distinctive traits.”