Another spanish for nursing question

  1. 1
    I was thinking that it will important to learn spanish, but older people like myself who rarely ever meet anyone who speaks spanish will find it difficult to learn and retain.
    I was thinking I could learn just a few phrases that pertain to nursing, like "time for medication", "are you in pain", etc,,but who knows if i could understand their response.. so... that got me to looking at the google translator that seems to work pretty well,, has anyone ever used a translation book or software to get away with communication without calling in translators?
    NurseOnAMotorcycle likes this.
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  3. 19 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    Hi, I am too old to have used translation books or software. I took several Spanish for health care professional courses and they served me fine for the basics.

    If I need to ask a complex question or really REALLY need to be sure I understand their answer to a question I ask a fluent, or better abled, (I know that isn't really a word) co-workers help.


    Learn to say, "I am sorry, I speak and understand poorly, please answer slowly," helps.
    NurseOnAMotorcycle likes this.
  5. 4
    One of my friends used google translate at the bedside on his tablet. He'd type in what he wanted to say, press the "speak" button, and then the program would read off what he needed to say. He'd then give the tablet to the patient, who'd do the same. He said it worked pretty darn well.
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    I've learned to be friendly and ask yes/no questions for the quick in and out of the room type of things. But communication is too important to leave it to Google. Between dialects and slang, you can have a serious miscommunication that Google won't catch but an experienced interpreter will catch, even one over the phone. Would you trust YOUR health to google's translation?
    nrsang97 and Hoozdo like this.
  7. 7
    The problem with interpreting software is that it will give you a bad translation with the same conviction that it gives you a valid one.

    My Spanish is hit-and-miss (I'm 'older', took only one year formally, but have been doing self-study for years) but I know when I know and I know when I don't.

    Example: I was recently helping an admitting doc interview a patient... for the most part, I was able to effectively communicate. At then end, I was getting confused about the patient's desires pertaining to code status. I finally told the doc, "here's what I'm getting but there's some confusion... this is too critical to entrust to my limited skills and needs a fluent speaker."

    The funny part was that my bilingual tech came in and finished up... and it turned out that I did understand correctly but that the family and patient remained very confused and conflicted about how they wanted to handle code and end-of-life decisions... my confusion was actually an accurate representation of what they were saying.

    Bottom line: Learn functional Spanish and don't blindly rely on a computer translator...
    Lennonninja, nrsang97, Hoozdo, and 4 others like this.
  8. 2
    Beware the on line translator. I thought I was telling my post op surgical patient to deep breath but his daughter asked me why I kept telling her father that his breath smelled bad.
    Hoozdo and wooh like this.
  9. 2
    Quote from ♪♫ in my ♥
    The problem with interpreting software is that it will give you a bad translation with the same conviction that it gives you a valid one.

    My Spanish is hit-and-miss (I'm 'older', took only one year formally, but have been doing self-study for years) but I know when I know and I know when I don't.

    Example: I was recently helping an admitting doc interview a patient... for the most part, I was able to effectively communicate. At then end, I was getting confused about the patient's desires pertaining to code status. I finally told the doc, "here's what I'm getting but there's some confusion... this is too critical to entrust to my limited skills and needs a fluent speaker."

    The funny part was that my bilingual tech came in and finished up... and it turned out that I did understand correctly but that the family and patient remained very confused and conflicted about how they wanted to handle code and end-of-life decisions... my confusion was actually an accurate representation of what they were saying.

    Bottom line: Learn functional Spanish and don't blindly rely on a computer translator...


    It's never a good idea to rely on the tech/housekeeper/phlebotomist/chaplain to translate. Chances are that one or both of the following will occur:
    1) The translator won't understand what you mean and/or will translate inaccurately in either or both directions -- and you will never know the difference
    2) The patient will not want to divulge something really important to a stranger; this is compounded with private matters with a translator of the opposite gender.

    It's also often not a good idea to ask a family member to translate, either. 1) may yet occur, and 2) is worse when a patient doesn't want a family member to know something or is embarrassed to have a family member discuss it. This includes the niece who's in nursing school. Don't put her in this position.

    There are real, certified medical translation services. The translate your words exactly, and the patient's words exactly. They are qualified to translate medical terms. They don't say, "He says that he has a pain in...," they say, "I have a pain in ..." They, ideally, become invisible.

    You find out where the patient's misunderstandings are the same way you do with a patient speaking your own native language. Once I learned about these folks and started using them I never ever did it any other way.
    nrsang97 and VivaLasViejas like this.
  10. 2
    At my facility if you're not specifically signed off for a certain language you are strictly forbidden from speaking any thing except English to a patient. For translation you can either 1) use a medical interpreter if one is available or 2) use our tele-translate equipment which connects you to a third party translater and looks like a telephone with two headsets.
    applewhitern and GrnTea like this.
  11. 0
    I don't even try to speak Spanish. With my deep southern accent, I just can't get it to sound anything like it is supposed to! Our hospital pays for a translator service, so might as well use them.
  12. 0
    Quote from Bruce_Wayne
    At my facility if you're not specifically signed off for a certain language you are strictly forbidden from speaking any thing except English to a patient...
    This is the typical situation at most hospitals.

    Other kinds of facilities -- with fewer resources -- take a less formal stance.


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