Rampant Racisim in Hospitals!!

  1. I am from California where many classified ads for nurses state "bilingual is a must!" Well I am trilingual, but since I do not speak spanish I do not qualify as bilingual. What is the rationale behind this? This is rampant, overt, disguisting racism. It should not be happening inside hospitals. Bilingual implies two languages. It is not another word for spanish. Something has to be done.


    Yes, I am trying to learn spanish and know a few phrases and nursing related questions, but my problem is with the hospitals trying to hide the fact that they only want to hire spanish speakers.
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  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    We have the same issue in Canada, except that here it means "fluent in French" and it isn't only just in hospitals, it's all over. The federal government is in fact one of the worst offenders, because they've legislated Canada to be a country of two "official" languages, English and French. However, Quebec has declared French to be its only official language and has very strict laws on English language education: for a child to go to an English-only school the parents must have been educated in English in Quebec for more than 50% of their elementary education. Otherwise they are required to attend French-only schools or go through a very rigorous challenge process. Legalized racism, n'est-ce pas?
  4. by   Jolie
    Quote from goodkittie395
    I am from California where many classified ads for nurses state "bilingual is a must!" Well I am trilingual, but since I do not speak spanish I do not qualify as bilingual. What is the rationale behind this? This is rampant, overt, disguisting racism. It should not be happening inside hospitals. Bilingual implies two languages. It is not another word for spanish. Something has to be done.


    Yes, I am trying to learn spanish and know a few phrases and nursing related questions, but my problem is with the hospitals trying to hide the fact that they only want to hire spanish speakers.
    I don't see this as racism at all, simply practicality. California has a large Spanish-only speaking population, and hospitals there need employees who are capable of communicating effectively with their patient population. When employers in California advertise for "bilingual" candidates, I am certain that most people understand this to be Spanish/English. I seriously doubt that hospitals are trying to "...hide the fact that they only want to hire spanish (sic) speakers."

    Your ability to speak multiple languages should serve you well. I suggest that you highlight this ability in cover letters you send to potential employers, and bring it up during employment interviews.
  5. by   gerry79
    Its just a sign of the times in this country. Hospitals want revenue and to attract a client base they must be able to accomodate that client. It seems unfair because you know the old saying "when in Rome do as the Romans", but this is the nature of the beast living in a country that has the "metling pot mentality" ingrained within its infastructure. I have traveled abroad many times during my military career and although english was tolerated, mainly in the tourist areas, outside of those areas you had to speak the native language (or at least make an attempt to speak the language). I venture to say that if I wanted to earn a living in said country I would have to learn the native tongue to survive. Are we a better society for being so accomodating? Some say yes, others no, but some feel that we are a little too accomodating in that the effort some new immigrants place on learning the native language is lacking because our politically correct society enables languages other than english to dominate in many cities across this nation. I think it would be wise for the youngsters of today to learn a second language because thier future employment prospects may well depend on it.
  6. by   TheCommuter
    Employment advertisements must resort to subliminal, subtle messages about employee qualifications because the truth would raise a few eyebrows.

    When an employment advertisement states, "Seeking applicants with three to five years of experience," they are really asking for someone who is under 30 years of age. The more youthful applicants are desired; therefore, the middle-aged applicants need not apply.

    When an employment advertisement in California states, "Bilingual applicants are a must," they are truly asking for someone who is bilingual in English and Spanish. They have absolutely no use for applicants who are bilingual in Yiddish and Italian.

    Employers and job interviewers already have clear mental pictures of the people that they wish to hire, but they cannot be straightforward about this fact. After all, their company is probably claiming to be an equal opportunity employer.
  7. by   JaneyW
    I think this is also a safety and quality of care issue in California. I have learned A LOT of Spanish because I cannot give my patients safe, quality care without knowing it. I would say that roughly 20% of my patients speak no English at all. Another 30-40% I meet in the middle with my little Spanish and their little English. We could go on about the political issues involved, but that won't help me when I am trying to get a history from someone in an emergent situation. Also, most of the want ads I see specify English/Spanish bilingual preferred. There is a hospital in Fountain Valley that asks for Vietnamese/English bilingual. It isn't a racist thing in my opinion or experience.
  8. by   Sheri257
    Wow ... that's a wild headline.

    I don't see how this is racist. Requiring employees to know a skill that's needed for a specific job isn't racist. And being able to speak a different language is a skill.

    So if you know French but they need Spanish, why is that racist? Chances are: knowing French isn't going to be useful on the job. If the UN was short on Spanish interpreters but not French interpreters and, was only hiring people who knew Spanish would that be racist? Probably not.

    Just FYI: I just graduated from a nursing program in California and I don't personally know of anyone in my class who's had trouble getting hired because they didn't know Spanish.

    While I'm sure it's a preferred skill, I don't think not knowing Spanish keeps you from getting hired either.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Feb 17, '07
  9. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from gerry79
    Are we a better society for being so accomodating? Some say yes, others no, but some feel that we are a little too accomodating in that the effort some new immigrants place on learning the native language is lacking because our politically correct society enables languages other than english to dominate in many cities across this nation.

    In my observation and experience, those who say "no" are often threatened by other races and cultures and feel that their own would be somehow diminished by allowing others to practice their cultures. Then there is always the issue of power and control. You can't control others if you can't understand them. In this country, my ancestors were forbidden to speak their native language, practice their native religion, or participate in many customs of their native country on threat of punishment or death. That is part why I get so disgusted at talk of "English-only" laws.


    You wouldn't know it by current debate in this country and on this board but all the hysteria over immigrants speaking their native language and not assimilating well is very, very old. For every wave of immigrants in this country from the European countries, there was the same reaction, the same cries for English-only laws, the same bigotry and xenophobia. The KKK enjoyed a good run in the 1920s because of it.
  10. by   Mags4711
    I agree that I don't see how it's racist. I do however think it's ridiculous! It would be *nice* if you could speak both English and Spanish, but let's be honest here, folks. These patients have come the USA, where we speak ENGLISH. If I were to be in Japan and get sick, I would NEVER expect my nurse to speak English. I would expect that my caregivers would speak Japanese and that every so often a translator would come see me so that I could be updated in English about my condition.
  11. by   NurseLatteDNP
    I understood this post differently. I don't think the PO is upset that you have to know Spanish to work in a certain hospital, but about the fact that "bilingual" only means Spanish/English, and not any other foreign language.
  12. by   Mags4711
    Quote from kiyatylese
    I understood this post differently. I don't think the PO is upset that you have to know Spanish to work in a certain hospital, but about the fact that "bilingual" only means Spanish/English, and not any other foreign language.
    You are right, I see your point, and I understood that from the OP as well. I guess I just put that aside in my mind because for me that wasn't the larger problem. Even though my response was taking us off topic, I felt compelled to state my opinion. The larger problem is that nurses in the US are being required to know another language in order to work in an institution. I am bilingual as well, and no, the other language is not Spanish (as the OP's is not). I understand that learning a second language in school is important for a variety of reasons. I do NOT agree that knowing a second language in order to have a job in a company/institution within the US, owned and operated by English speakers, and servicing persons within the US (regardless of where they are from originally), should be a requirement. Especially in the case of a hospital where much of the revenue comes from the government in one form or another. As I said in my previous post, if I were in another country, I would never expect that my nurse had to know English to treat me. As long as s/he is a good nurse, I'd be fine.

    And I agree with the OP that if the ridiculous requirement to be "bilingual" is English/Spanish, that's what the posting should state.
    Last edit by Mags4711 on Feb 20, '07
  13. by   BeccaznRN
    I had no problem securing employment in southern California without knowing any Spanish (I am in Ventura County, which has a large number of Hispanic residents). My hospital offers free classes in Spanish for medical professionals on a continuous basis, but it's not mandatory. And I have to say that while there's always at least one person on the floor that is bilingual English/Spanish, very few of us speak Spanish.

    I guess hospitals could prefer bilingual English/Spanish (which in no way constitutes racism IMO), but I think needing a good bedside nurse is more important.
  14. by   Cheyenne RN,BSHS
    [font="comic sans ms"]okay, this may not turn out right when i say it ......... so you all be nice and take it with the honesty and innocence it is intended. it is just an opinion and an experience that i had going to live overseas.

    i speak two different languages and no, one is not spanish. ((i can also sign in american sign language enough to communicate with the hearing impaired.))

    i learned my second lanuage when i was going to germany and was expected to live there. (i did live there for 5 years and that was a long time ago)

    i did not ever ...and at any time ..... expect the german people who i lived with and who worked around me and with me, to learn and use english, because it was i who moved there and i was the guest in their country.

    i respected their culture, holidays, foods, their mores and values and did not try one time to impose my beliefs or american thought processes on them unless asked for what it was "american's believe" on a subject and even then, i could only tell them what i individually thought. i am not a spokesperson for the whole country, we are all too different.

    like wise, to me and only in my opinion, i believe that it is the responsibilty of any person coming into the usa to learn english. ((i did speak english with my parents at home or some friends from the usa but not when we were out around in the german public so that people listening would not feel excluded. that to me seemed rude even when i was younger.))

    i am not against anyone coming into this country but i expect them to be as respectful to our country ((or any country anyone would go to live in)) and if they choose to live here or spend a significant amount of time here, they should take the time to learn the language. it is just a matter of accepting responsibility and respect to me.

    [[[[[ducking behind my computer for those who did not get the intent that i mean not trying to offend anyone. ]]]]]


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