Theory and Goals

The goal of Transcultural Nursing is to develop a scientific and humanistic body of knowledge in order to provide culture-specific and culture-universal nursing care practices. Transcultural Nursing can be defined as that field of nursing focused on the comparative study and analysis of different cultures and subcultures in the world with respect to their caring behavior; nursing care; and health-illness values, beliefs and patterns of behavior. The UH Hilo SON espouses the concept that Transcultural nursing is needed today more than ever because of the growing diversity that defines our local, national and global populations.  The UH Hilo SON Transcultural Educational Framework encompasses the philosophical underpinnings of the school of nursing.  The central theme of the framework is the belief that nurses, need to have a broad understanding of the various cultures that are present in the environment in which they will be practicing.  The faculty provides many opportunities for student to explore the transcultural aspect of Hawaiʻi, in both the clients that they will serve and the fellow students and health care providers with whom they will work. 

The underlying Transcultural thread of UH Hilo BSN Program provides a viewpoint of areas of awareness, knowledge, and skills in cultural self-awareness, that nurses must acquire to competently attend to the needs of their clients. Our pedagogy parallels that of the Transcultural Nursing Society in that culturally competent care can only occur when culture care values are known and serve as the foundation for meaningful care.

Transcultural Quotes about Hawaiʻi

“May all nurses, nurse educators and nurse researchers practice human caring within a holistic and transcultural context. Transcultural nursing knowledge is Dr. Leininger's legacy to professional nursing. I am reminded of her urgent vision that transcultural nursing knowledge needs to be shared on a global basis. I have tried to expand this wisdom of caring to humans, animals and plants as many of us live in violent and toxic environments. Our minds, as magnificent resources for detailed, peaceful, thankful and global thinking can lead us to 1) paths of respect and recognition of visible and invisible spiritual dimensions; 2) paths of nurturing relationships with higher beings, and 3) diverse paths of emic and etic healing for optimal health. Let us unite and focus our caring energies toward safe, cultural congruent caring for human families, Earth's animals and plants and our multi-dimensional Universe.”

—Genevieve LehuananiOKilauea Kinney, RN, Ph.D., TCN, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Affiliate Faculty-2007

“Hawaiʻi is a place of unsurpassed natural beauty that cares for those in need. Everyone is welcome regardless of racial, ethnic, religious or economic background.” “It is a place that honors its rich, multi-cultural heritage... “We aren't a place that tolerates diversity; we celebrate it.”

—Gov. Linda Lingle 2007

Student Stories

J.Carter If you want to work as a nurse in Hawaiʻi, knowledge about Transcultural Nursing is essential to provide quality and competent healthcare to the residents of Hawaiʻi. The Hawaiian islands are rich with many cultures and religions, and with that comes varied beliefs and customs that nurses need to be aware of to be successful to treat the whole patient.

—Julie Carter, BSN Student Class of 2016

Y. Wong.“Growing up here in Hilo Hawaiʻi back in the early 70's, I will admit it was very culturally diverse. Koreans, Japanese, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Portuguese, Caucasians, and Puerto Ricans, were imported to work on the sugar plantations. Those were the thriving years of the plantation Era. If your papa worked for the sugar company on the East or West side of the Big Island, it was sure to say that you lived in the plantation district or as it was known, the camp. Because of the culture diversity in the camp, you could smell the different ethnic foods and hear the different dialects spoken. One could not ignore trying all the different foods, speaking, and understanding the language. Eventually, customs, religions, and rituals were shared. Thus transcultural living existed in these communities. As a nurse, to experience this first hand has given me the opportunity to understand not only my cultural importance but other ethnic groups as well.”

—Yvonne Wong, Doctor of Nursing Practice Student Class of 2016

M. Nandar“I admit that prior to coming to UH Hilo I was worried that my studies would be too culturally distant from my Burma/Myanmar reality.“
“What I discovered was an ideal inter and transcultural environment both within the university and the community. The Nursing School is committed to culturally competent care and this is integrated into all aspects of study and practice. I come from a society with 135 "official" cultural and ethnic groups. I have already applied the UH Hilo transcultural philosophy and methods in my volunteer work back home. As we have learned, this involves respect, sensitivity, open-mindedness and awareness. In other words, precisely what we would desire and need if we were the patient.”

—Mya Yee Nandar, BSN Student Class of 2016

L. Miho“Living in Hawaiʻi is an experience that is truly incomparable to others. Unlike various places around the world, we are the gathering place of a diverse amount of cultures ranging from Marshallese to Swedish. The care that needs to be given on this island as well as the state requires an individual to be aware of spiritual and cultural characteristics of each individualized person and to give unbiased, fully compassionate care. From the education from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo BSN program and more specifically the given focus in transcultural care, we are able to be culturally competent healthcare providers. As well as, to give back to the community that we are in and to be able to take quality care to the next level. We are appreciative to have this foundation in to help us further our nursing career. 

—Lauren Miho, BSN Student Class of 2016

Students and a Nursing signAnnual Transcultural Symposium

Dr. KinneyDr. Gennie Kinney

Jumping Off of Coconut IslandNursing students jumping int the water at Coconut Island