Do you get extra work cause your bilingual?

  1. I always have to deal with my patients, +plus other nurses patients because most of our patients are spanish speaking. This gives me extra work and puts me behind. It takes away from time I could be charting and dealing with my own work I could be doing.

    Due to the demograhics of the population were I work, I think it should be mandatory for the nurses to take at least a medical spanish class. I dont want to open the can of worms of immigration/non english speaking people. Im just venting. Thanks for listening.
    Last edit by CyndieRN2007 on Oct 24, '07 : Reason: spelling, grammar, its late and im tired!!!
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  2. 90 Comments

  3. by   bethin
    I agree 100%. I'm an aide on med surg in a small community hospital so we don't have much of a Latino population but it has surged in the past couple of years. Because none of the nurses or aides speak spanish, and I had taken 3 years in hs I went to the local cc and took a medical spanish course. I am still the only one who is able to translate. I don't have the problem that you do since I'm an aide, but I do get called at all hours at times being asked to come in to translate a new admit. I don't mind - it's extra money BUT I think I should get premium pay for getting out of bed at 0300. That falls on deaf ears.

    It would be well worth it to have the hospital send it's nurses to a spanish class for medical professionals. If you're having such a large population it's likely that they won't lose their speaking ability - you know, use it or lose it.

    I think it would be hard for the hospital to make it mandatory. Some people are of the thinking that if they're here they need to speak the language. I don't think that way - afterall, my great grandparents emigrated from Germany and didn't speak english.

    Maybe try to talk management into a small incentive for those who take the class or offer their services? Maybe a small bonus every year or a small hourly raise. I know that will probably fall on deaf ears too.
  4. by   jojotoo
    I don't speak Spanish. Does someone else have to translate for me when the need arises? And does that take them away from their "own" work? Yes to both those questions. Do I get pulled away from "my" work when I have to start an IV or draw blood for another nurse that can't get it herself. That answer would also be yes.

    We don't all have the same strengths, and thankfully, we don't all have the same weaknesses. Hopefully, we can complement each other.
    Last edit by jojotoo on Oct 24, '07 : Reason: sp.
  5. by   bethin
    Quote from jojotoo
    I don't speak Spanish. Does someone else have to translate for me when the need arises? And does that take them away from their "own" work? Yes to both those questions. Do I get pulled away from "my" work when I have to start an IV or draw blood for another nurse that can't get it herself. That answer would also be yes.

    We don't all have the same strengths, and thankfully, we don't all have the same weaknesses. Hopefully, we can complement each other.
    I agree. But, what I gather from the OP, she is the only one on the floor who is bilingual. Any nurse can start an IV, some just may be better at it than others. Most nurses will give it at least one try before finding another person, but when a spanish only speaking person says he's having chest pain to his non spanish speaking nurse I begin to see a problem. It's everytime a word comes out of that patient's mouth that that nurse needs to translate. Now that's a problem.

    I doubt you yourself is the only one being pulled away from your work continously throughout your shift for every IV start or blood draw.
  6. by   leslymill
    Quote from CyndieRN2007
    I always have to deal with my patients, +plus other nurses patients because most of our patients are spanish speaking. This gives me extra work and puts me behind. It takes away from time I could be charting and dealing with my own work I could be doing.

    Due to the demograhics of the population were I work, I think it should be mandatory for the nurses to take at least a medical spanish class. I dont want to open the can of worms of immigration/non english speaking people. Im just venting. Thanks for listening.
    That isn't a can of worms...it is a can of ASPs.

    Only Spanish I acknowledge is um...potto...um...caca...




    So we don't force them to learn English, you want to force ME to speak a language I HATE???????


    UM..if I want to learn Spanish I WILL MOVE TO MEXICO....gracias
    Last edit by donsterRN on Oct 25, '07 : Reason: Removed offending word
  7. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    I think it should be mandatory for anyone living in the US to learn english.
    I don't get extra work because I speak spanish, I get extra work because I don't.

    Everything takes much longer than it should, and is more streesful than it should be because of the language thing.

    Also, when pt's and staff cannot communicate, it is risky for the pt and for the nurse's license.
  8. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Quote from bethin
    It would be well worth it to have the hospital send it's nurses to a spanish class for medical professionals. .......... I don't think that way - afterall, my great grandparents emigrated from Germany and didn't speak english.
    .
    We've already spent years in classes learning how to take care of pts, now we need to take more classes so we can communcate with them? Where does the pt's responsibility start?

    My great grandparents also came from Germany and didn't speak english. However, they actually made an effort to learn, and did not expect society and taxpayers to cater to them.
  9. by   SharonH, RN
    Here's what you do:

    At the next meeting, bring up your frustrations and concerns to your co-workers and watch their reactions. Make a note of the ones who acknowledge the extra work you do and who are supportive and grateful to you. Especially make a note of the ones who state that they are willing to learn Spanish or at least take medical Spanish. The next time those co-workers ask for your help, make yourself graciously available to them.

    Also make a note of the ones who appear to be dismissive of your concerns. Listen for the ones who make comments about how those who can't speak Spanish should move back to Mexico (the only spanish-speaking country in the world). When they ask for your help, tell them to call the language line.
  10. by   BORI-BSNRN
    Quote from leslymill
    That isn't a can of worms...it is a can of ASPs.

    Only Spanish I acknowledge is um...potto...um...caca...




    So we don't force them to learn English, you want to force ME to speak a language I HATE???????


    UM..if I want to learn Spanish I WILL MOVE TO MEXICO....gracias
    Here we go... You DON'T HAVE to learn another language if you don't want to but there is always a COMPASSIONATE NURSE that like to help the non-English language patients. Please lets avoid being sarcastic here....Thanks.
    Last edit by donsterRN on Oct 25, '07 : Reason: removed deleted word from referenced post...
  11. by   ohmeowzer RN
    i do think the patients should learn english. we have a phone number that we can call if we need to explain a procedure. i have never wated to learn spanish and never will. i asked my nurse manager once about learning spainish and she told me not to bother.
  12. by   Adenium
    I think making Spanish classes mandatory would be going a bit far, and would be unfair to nurses who may very well be skilled and trained to work with patients in the official language of the country as they should be, but who struggle struggle learning languages, particularly as they get older.

    I myself have studied French, Spanish, and German over the years as I find languages kind of fun to learn. I also feel one can come across as a bit arrogant or rude when traveling if you go somewhere where English isn't spoken yet expect to be accomodated. I even tried to learn Shona when living in Zimbabwe for a term in college, though my success was limited. Lonely Planet sells those useful little $8 pockets guides that work pretty well, so it's not a huge deal to make an attempt. And given that I make that effort, I do sort of expect other people to also. Particularly if they live here!

    That said, there's no escaping the fact that many people in hospitals speak only Spanish, and it's very difficult to treat them if you can't understand them. Perhaps the best thing would be to both offer medical Spanish classes, but not penalize those who don't take them. And also to point the Spanish-speakers to any local resources to help them learn English - nothing like being in a possible life-threatening situation without any translation to realize the need, I would think. Heck, you could even have bilingual dictionaries in the rooms so they find what they're looking for themselves if they're able.
  13. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from Adenium
    Heck, you could even have bilingual dictionaries in the rooms so they find what they're looking for themselves if they're able.

    Oooooooh, say that's a good idea. I'm sure that some would be resistant to that idea or there might be some legal reason why it could not be done but I like it a lot. Do I hear an entreprenurial opportunity knocking?
  14. by   APBT mom
    I don't necessarily think that the nurses should learn to speak Spanish. I use to work at a doctor's office where 80% of the patients spoke Spanish. Most did speak English but knowing that I was the only one who spoke English they would constantly speak Spanish to me. I would have to go and get someone to translate for me but there were times where the girl fron Cuba and the girl from Puerto Rico would both be trying to translate aother type of Spanish because just like different parts of this country have different meaning for words so do people who speak Spanish. The major hospitals in my area have a number that you can call and they will translate for you. This is not only for Spanish but just about every language spoken. It works the same way that they use for people who are deaf. Maybe there is something similar that your hospital could use for patients who can't speak English.

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