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Chapter: Medical Surgical Nursing: Perspectives in Transcultural Nursing

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Folk Healers

Several cultures believe in folk or indigenous healers.

Folk Healers

Several cultures believe in folk or indigenous healers. The nurse may find some Hispanic patients, for instance, turning to a cu-randero or curandera, espiritualista (spiritualist), yerbo (herbalist), or sabador (healer who manipulates bones and muscles). Some African American patients may seek assistance from a hougan (voodoo priest or priestess), spiritualist, root doctor (usually a woman who uses magic rituals to treat diseases), or “old lady” (an older woman who has successfully raised a family and who spe-cializes in child care and folk remedies). Native American patients may seek assistance from a shaman or medicine man or woman. Patients of Asian descent may mention that they have visited herbalists, acupuncturists, or bone setters. Several cultures have their own healers, most of whom speak the native tongue of the patient, make house calls, and cost significantly less than healers practicing in the conventional medical health care system.

 

People seeking complementary and alternative therapies have expanded the practices of folk healers beyond their traditional populations, so the nurse needs to ask patients about participa-tion with folk healers regardless of their cultural background. It is best not to disregard a patient’s belief in a folk healer or try to undermine trust in the healer. To do so may alienate and drive the patient away from receiving the care prescribed. A nurse should make an effort to accommodate the patient’s beliefs while also advocating the treatment proposed by health science.


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