Nurses Week begins on 6 May, culminating in International Nurses Day on 12 May.As part Nurses Week 2013, the Cayman Islands Nursing Association is hosting its 8th Annual Nursing Conference from 7 to 10 May at the Marriott Beach Resort.This years conference theme is Embracing Diversity in Nursing Care: Achieving Successful Patient Outcomes.Topics to be covered in the conference include the gift of diversity, developing cultural competency, sexuality and gender well-being, dengue fever and teenage suicide.The keynote speaker this year is Dr. Audrey Gittens-Gilkes from St. Vincent and The Grenadines who will speak on Cultural Diversity in Nursing and Healthcare.The nucleus of nursing function is the delivery of care that is safe, relevant and meaningful to the recipient of that care. This requires an understanding of the cultural differences and similarities of practice among those who deliver care as well as an understanding of the culture of the recipients of care, said Dr. Gittens-Gilkes.The Cayman Islands healthcare system has provided fertile ground for cultural diversity and self-exploration. The quality of care delivered as well as the mental and social wellbeing of the care-givers, are dependent on the extent to which all the cultural dimensions are managed, and this will be my key message to conference attendees.Dr. Gittens-Gilkes has 25 years of nursing experience under her belt. Her areas of special interest are policy development and implementation and health care management.On 11 May, she will be inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International, the honour society of nursing at Duke University School of Nursing in the United States where she graduated with a Doctor of Nursing Practice.We are very fortunate to have someone of Dr. Gittens-Gilkes calibre and experience speak to our conference attendees, said Sharon Buckley, president of the Cayman Islands Nurses Association. Her professional background and expertise in nursing ensures that our nurses will come away not only educated and enlightened but also motivated to continue delivering the highest standard of nursing care to our patients in this community. Dr. Gittens-Gilkes, chief nursing officer at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, said the theme of this years conference is timely and relevant. Globalisation has become a common point of reference whenever human interactions are discussed, and as people become more connected to each other through information technology and ease of travel. Nurses understand that language may be different but the need to communicate is universal. They also understand that the way of life of people regardless of the country of origin may be different but the need for healthy living is the same, she said. The goal therefore is to develop the necessary competence to allow for the co-existence of all the differences in cultures for the overall good of the people. The constant movement of people across borders and the exchange of values and norms remain relevant. Nurses must keep the dialogue alive and seek at all times to understand the dynamics as they are presented, she added.Each year during the conference, the Eloise Reid Excellence in Nursing Award is presented to a nurse for his/her outstanding performance and service. This years award ceremony will be held during the opening cocktail reception on Tuesday, 7 May. There will also be a 5K fun run/walk that starts at 6.30am at Camana Bay on Saturday, 11 May and is open to the public; as well as a church service dedicated to the nursing profession at the Agape Family Worship Centre on Sunday, 12 May.Nurses Week is an exciting time for nurses because it creates an opportunity for us to come together in a forum where we can compare notes, engage in useful dialogue and give each other some much-needed support, said Ms Buckley. Nurses can also use the education and knowledge they receive at the conference to apply for more than 20 continuing education credits. Acquiring further qualifications, and the advantage of doing it locally, mean that both the nurses and our patients in the community benefit from this annual event.For more information about the Nursing Conference, email