opening up nursing the profession to spanish speakers?

  1. I just posted a thread called, " Is there cultural diversity in the nursing profession?" and on a similar topic I would like to put out another question. I am a C.N.A. and have noticed that maybe as much as 50% of my co-workers are Hispanic, yet I personally have not seen the among nurses. I have two women friends from Guatemala who are very good C.N.A.'s, but desperately want to go into nursing. They both feel it is impossible due to their language skills. Yet, both these women are able to communicate just fine, though would probably run into trouble with some of the medical terminology.
    There is an ever growing demand for spanish speaking nurses. It seems logical to me that the nursing profession would want to recruit hispanics to fill this need. How can the profession become more accessible to Hispanic people? Is it essentail that english skills be perfect and how could nursing programs adapt to help with the language barrier? are there any other important pieces to these problem that I have not considered?
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  2. 36 Comments

  3. by   KC CHICK
    I don't see any problem w/hispanics in the nursing profession, or any other group of people for that matter. Spanish is the fastest growing language in this country. I'm thinking of eventually learning it myself....don't need it at this point though.
    There is a problem, however, with not knowing and understanding medical terminology. Not knowing med term or medication labels/names could put the patient at risk. Would probly be easier for a primary spanish speaker to learn if they were taught by a spanish speaking instructor.

    Anne
  4. by   Vsummer1
    I went to school with a girl who was originally from Mexico. She speaks fine english, and is married to an American. She even took care of her mother in law, who was bed bound and required total care, in her home. She was one of the most caring, competent girls in our class and had her skills down pat. But, when it came to the tests and the critical thinking (I guess it was the wording) she just had so much trouble passing. If you sat down and talked to her, she could tell you the whys and whats on the tests, but just could not pass those tests! She was even given extra time to do them. And the way they were written was based on the NCLEX.

    Getting your RN license is based on your passing or failing of the NCLEX. So the bottom line is, if she wants to be an RN she is going to have to learn to take and pass tests the way the boards are written.

    I wish that the boards could take into consideration her great skills and all the rest, but I just don't see that happening.
  5. by   Teshiee
    I agree to some point. But accomodating another language to get by I do not. If you are from another country and do not have the grasp of knowing the medical terms and procedures then it is up that individual rather he/she is Hispanic, Chinese or French to take the initiative to learn it. It would be nice to have a bridge course for individuals who may need extra help in learning medical terminology because english is not their first language having someone teach it in their language only defeats the problem that is ongoing in America now. Preparation is the key. If woke up one morning and decided I wanted to be nurse in Japan I first have to take it upon myself to learn Japanese language and their customs.
  6. by   sharann
    Originally posted by Teshiee
    I agree to some point. But accomodating another language to get by I do not. If you are from another country and do not have the grasp of knowing the medical terms and procedures then it is up that individual rather he/she is Hispanic, Chinese or French to take the initiative to learn it. It would be nice to have a bridge course for individuals who may need extra help in learning medical terminology because english is not their first language having someone teach it in their language only defeats the problem that is ongoing in America now. Preparation is the key. If woke up one morning and decided I wanted to be nurse in Japan I first have to take it upon myself to learn Japanese language and their customs.
    Well said Teshiee. It isn't enough to be able to communicate with patients...they have to be able to communicate with staff and other personnel as well. Are they willing to take care of non-Spanish speaking patients as well? We have many patients who only speak English, Tagalog, Farsi, Armenian, and Russian as well.
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Do I count? I may NOT be Hispanic, but speak FLUENT Spanish nonetheless. What about French? I speak that a bit, but am not French.... (or French Canadien)......

    I wonder, seriously, how many languages would I need to learn to speak to effectively accomodate all the different ones I come into contact all the time? YES-- we need all manner of cultural backgrounds in nursing, like anywhere else. I happen to think the profession is OPEN to ANYone who wants to enter and works hard enough to succeed. I say welcome........if you want to be a nurse, good, I don't care what color you are native tongue, as long as you care and are sincere....I would welcome you.
  8. by   Faby
    Hi. I agree totally with Teshiee. If anybody wants to be a nurse in another country in which another language is spoken, first of all he or she has to learn that language very well. That's the first step, not only to comunicate with patients but to live in that country. And specially in nursing comunicating is very important. How could someone after assesing a patient would be able to make file records? How would someone speak to that patient or his family, his doctor or comunicate with the rest of the staff. And how could someone learn new procedures or treatment, attend courses in that country without knowing the language in which they're taught? It is different when you are in your country and have a foreign patient, he is only one and the hole staff would have the same problem to solve. I used to have asian patiens who didn't spoke a word of spanish or even english, only his language. Well we comunicated by signals , but we could'n comunicate more than basic signals to represent pain, fever. We couldn't reach other patient's needs.
  9. by   misti_z
    Originally posted by SmilingBluEyes
    I happen to think the profession is OPEN to ANYone who wants to enter and works hard enough to succeed. I say welcome........if you want to be a nurse, good, I don't care what color you are native tongue, as long as you care and are sincere....I would welcome you.
    I agree!! If you are competent I don't care--I welcome you to the profession.
  10. by   live4today
    I can't remember a time that I didn't work with spanish speaking nurses of the spanish culture. Excellent nurses indeed! Many times it was so valuable to me to know they were on the unit working beside me......especially when many of my patients out in California and Alaska were spanish-speaking.

    After traveling to other countries overseas, I was amazed at how well some foreigners spoke our language.....or at least attempted to. I think our own children should learn more than the English language since we are......after all........"the land of the free...home of the brave...send me your tired, your poor...tempest tossed to me" nation. We open our doors to other cultures to reside with us, so why not learn their language and insist they learn ours as well.
  11. by   CaliNurse
    Nursing is like another profession in what ever country you are in. You have to have the BASIC communication skills of that country. On my unit we have about 6 hispanic nurses. They fit in like anyone else. Every facility that I have ever worked in has an "English" only rule. You must speak english in the workplace unless you are on your break, out of the clinical area or translating for a patient. I doesn't matter what the other language is.

    In high school and a few years in college I studied French. There is a spoken and a written language. If I ever went to France I would still be lost. But if I expected to work there I should be able to communicate in what ever profession I choose.

    This is why we must take the pre-req's in school before we can move on to the clinical classes. We must master the language, mathematics, etc. before we can go to the advance courses.

    If I lived in Mexico and wanted to be a lawyer, nurse, teacher, doctor, computer tech, etc I must first master the language.

    Do your friends know the options they have open to learn what they feel they are missing. There are night adult education classes. There are language cassettes to listen to at home or in the car. There is even good old college. Even the nurses that spoke english from birth still had to take a language placement test and complete classes before they enter the nursing program.

    Staff from other backgrounds are benificial to everyone. If I have a patient who speaks any other language including sign language I would be lost. We keep at list of translaters that we can call to help us when needed. If my co-workers speaks that language that I need help in my job is so much easier.

    I welcome ANYONE into nursing who wants to be here.

    Cali
  12. by   Pamelita
    HI
    I am originally from Peru. I know many RN's that have the degree from their country of origen however here they work as CNA's or at other jobs. Its hard when it comes to study the terminology and basically just the every day talk.
    It took me about 2 years to feel comfortable speaking english its hard at the beginning but then you get used to. Its a such an advantage to speak both languages, sometimes they call me from different floors to translate. I feel so lucky to be able to talk and help my spanish patients who sometimes feel that they are alone. I know that in texas there is a programm for RN's from spanish countries who wish to take the nclex. They give them a course to learn medical terminology and english.
    I saw it in the spanish news.
    Cultural diversity is something wonderful, because nurses came in different colors, each nurse can offer so many things as well as american nurses
  13. by   fab4fan
    What does it matter?? I think accomodating language differences to the extent it is done in this country just fosters dependence. And I say this as someone who is from a Scotch-Irish background, but speaks Spanish fluently.

    You live here, you should learn to speak English.
  14. by   LPN & EMT-CT
    I totally agree with a lot of the posted notes, if you are going to live here you should know ENGLISH fluetantly, and having a scenond or 3rd, or 4th language in your back pocket,, it ain't going to hurt one bit. Every nurse has something to offer pt.'s. I say, the more nurses the better, it will help with the shortage!!! And everyone knows that is the truth, across the nation and everywhere else.

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