Speaking native languages at work... - page 7

A Sacramento hospital this week passed around a questionare to its nurses. Here is the question... Diversity Council Needs You! To give us input on the question of staff members using their... Read More

  1. by   mario_ragucci
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  2. by   NannaNurse
    Semstr........Yes, we have tried talking with these women........."no speak english"
    We have offered snacks we brought......."no speak english" even handed it to them........'no understand'.

    we have gone to admin......no fix. We show them what needs to be cleaned....point, etc........'no understand'.....but one of them came to us the other day........."I losed my key, I need key for car and home....help me find key".........by jove, I think she knows SOME english.....
    Like I said, I knew I would catch some 'flack' and I won't change my opinions. I am thankful these people are able to make a new life here and not all are LAZY, but these gals are, I'm sorry to say.

    When it comes to patients......it doesn't matter where you are..you should NOT be talking about them where others can hear you.....if it is medically related, then you should be professional and keep it private......
    Had a incident in Oklahoma where a couple of home health nurse were talking about Mrs. So and So.....poor thing lives all along in that huge expensive house with all those valuables......doesn't believe in banks and keeps her money in that safe under her bed.....no combination as she'll forget it..........lives out past the interstate on hwy 3, behind the red barn. We just go in the back door 'cuz she isn't up when we get there...............
    Just happens that 2 idiots thought it would be a 'piece of cake' to go see Mrs. So and So....rob and beat here......all because 2 morons couldn't keep their mouth shut in public!
  3. by   rebelwaclause
    Originally posted by mario_ragucci
    Blessed are the cowards and cryptic-talkers, for they shall truely inherit the earth !

    Let he/she who has never jeered or badmouthed anyone...at any time...cast the first self-rightous brick!
    Mario..You DO NOT want to go there.
  4. by   semstr
    Nannanurse,
    I meant really communicating with them, not going to admin.
    Did you ask one of these women, what profession they learned?
    I wouldn't be surprised if there are some highly trained women among them too. Or their husbands.
    And now the only work they get is cleaning. Just imagine!
    And don't tell me now, they have to be grateful and all that jazz..........
    Renee
  5. by   bagladyrn
    My two cents worth - I really don't care what language you speak on breaks, etc., but please don't speak across me at the nurses station in another language, or worse, switch languages when I walk up. That is deliberate rudeness, not unconciously lapsing. I worked for years in a psych unit for hearing impaired patients, and one of the rules of the unit was that everyone who worked in any capacity on that unit had to be willing to learn sign language. When speaking to another hearing individual on the unit you continued to use simultaneous sign as to do otherwise was considered rudeness to both patients and hearing impaired staff.
    And Heather, I agree with you on the ladies in the elevator. I wrote up a doctor for making innappropriate remarks in a language he assumed my patient didn't understand - in this case, he was speaking English, the patient Spanish, but that doesn't change the situation, or the rudeness of speaking about someone in front of them.
  6. by   CaliNurse
    Originally posted by jnette


    However, I still am of the firm conviction that to deny even staff in theto have DICTATED to me what language I was to speak and when. This is not the American way. My language is as PERSONAL to me as my choice of food, my faith, and anything else that's personal and dear to me. We have no right to tell anyone what tongue to speak in. Can we not find a reasonable compromise?

    What if the employers were to advise all employees that if when speaking the language of their choice they were to offend, be rude, or found to be "gossiping" about and/or around patients or staff, they would be called on it. Make them aware that others may just happen to understand their language and while at the workplace to act professionally at all times, just as would be expected of them at their place of employment in their home country. Inservices on ethics and professional conduct to be adhered to by ALL employees, regardless of nationality. If they screw up... there's the door!

    This would seem to be a far wiser direction to move in than the inflexible intolerance of "ENGLISH ONLY OR ELSE". And no, to a previous poster.. English is no longer the "universal language". It was years ago, but that, too, has changed. Nor is it still mandatory in most European schools, and certainly not in many other schools across the pond.

    I believe we can resolve this in a more civil and tolerant manner.


    Can I ask what part of your nursing education were you informed you would have PERSONAL choices. We are nurses to provide as service to people who needs us. If it is the patient or family. Where did we learn we would be "having our choice of food" or "our choice of faith"? These issues have nothing to do with practicing nursing. We eat on breaks and lunches and we believe in our faith just the same.

    At the facility I work in there is a policy AGAINST speaking in a non-english language and there is a policy AGAINST gossiping.

    The first time one screws up it is not "the door". They are spoken to in a constructive respective manner and after that it usually clears up.

    This practice is a direct reflection of the hospital. Everytime our patients are discharged they are mailed to their home a customer satisfaction survey. THEY GRADE US ! We take these survey results seriously. The results are discussed at each monthly staff meeting. Do you not care of what your patients thinks of your professionalism?????

    When we were in nursing school learning to be nurses we didn't have the freedom to gossip, have conversations in non-native languages or practive our religion so why would it be any different when we actually become nurses.

    Does you hospital have a chapel to pray in. You can go there on your breaks and lunch.

    I wonder how anyone gets any work done if they are having social conversations. I am way to busy assessing my patients and monitoring them for any changes, passing meds, giving baths, bedpans, pain meds, charting, etc.

    I am proud of my profession and I take pride in customer service and how satisfied our patients are. They are the ones who make it possible for us to have a paycheck. Why would we want to disrespect them by negating their environment of healing and security when they are in our facilities?

    IF ANYONE DOESN'T THINK THIS IS A BIG ISSUE WAIT UNTIL JCAHO VISIT YOU THEN TRY TO SPEAK WHAT EVER LANGUAGE IS NOT THE NATIVE LANGUAGE OF YOUR LAND! IF YOU HAVE A LTC UNIT IN YOUR FACILITY YOU ARE SURVEYED 2 A YEAR AND ON THE THIRD YEAR 3 TIMES WITH JCAHO.

    Believe me you will get a deficiency. It has nothing to do with who constructed your facilities policies it is based on what did they reference the policies on. These are all state or federal regulations!

    Cali
  7. by   NMAguiar
    ... and if questioned on your floor by JCAHO, they certainly won't accept an answer in other than English.

    Case closed.
  8. by   jnette
    Cali...
    First: I have maintained from the start that one should speak the language of the land in which one works when in direct contact with patients or within earshot of patients (after rereading Heather's post, I understood her point and agreed). I also have stated the same for the teamwork aspect amongst co-workers. One should not speak in English one minute, then turn and speak another language during a workrelated /patient realted discussion, etc.when in the presence of other Englishspeaking coworkers. I agree with you on that.

    Second...
    "professionalism" does not come in one language only (English).
    Professionalism is behavior..(spoken and UNspoken)..and the choices we make about our behavior. It goes waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond just the "language issue". Because two nurses (doctors, housekeepers, whoever...) walking down the hall are conversing in another language does not make them unprofessional. Enjoying a conversation with a "mate" from your country in your language during break does not make you unprofessional. If one is concerned with the patient's welfare and the reputation of the hospital and its employees, one will act accordingly, but it should not mean that such rigid rules must be applied and enforced. That takes "choice" out of the picture altogether, and personally I prefer to CHOOSE how to act and go home at the end of the day feeling good about my choices, knowing I have CHOSEN to act professionally.

    Yes, we are taught many things in school, but we still CHOOSE to act on what we've learned. And we must take responsibility for the choices we make.

    One's language is part of one's identity and therefor personal. I don't feel we should keep trying to put everyone into one mold. We are nurses but we are also INDIVIDUAL human beings with our own backgrounds and world experiences. We express this in many ways, and one of them is through our language. As long as we act professionally at work, it shouldn't matter what language it's in. Personally, I feel our problem is that we can't see past our own experiences, our own backyard. We mistrust anyone who does not share our own experience. That's JMHO, and I know many will disagree.. what else is new? Surely there are better and more reasonable solutions than "my way or no way".
    I sadly detect an undertone in your letter that expresses something deeper...
    Last edit by jnette on Oct 12, '02
  9. by   NannaNurse
    Semstr.........what part of my other post are you having trouble with understanding?????? I have told you that, YES, we have TRIED talking with these women....or I should say 'young ladies'.....they are all under 30. We have made several attempts to befriend them.........we get the same response.......NO ENGLISH.
    I don't think I ever said anything about feeling sorry for them or that they should be 'grateful'....I stated that I was glad that they have a chance to start a new life here. I just wish we could treat our own people as well. They get paid $8/hour, tax free, free housing, free transportation to and from work, food stamps, free daycare, uniforms........They are not 'highly educated' because we have other Bosnians working in different parts of the hospital as their education allows. They have been attending engish classes for several months now and don't seem to be learning a thing.
    If I were in their situation, I would certianly make an effort to learn as much as I could about the language, culture, etc of my new homeland.
    What will these people do when questioned by JCAHO??? oh boy...
    I don't believe ANYBODY deserves a free handout....regardless!! I work hard for my pay and they should too......it is really starting to be a hassle constantly asking for rooms to be cleaned. We had to wait 4 hours to admit another paitent because these girls were nowhere to be found.......oh they were found, sitting outside for a 15 minute break that lasted 1 hour and 45 min. We only get 30 min for lunch.
    If you have a job..............WORK!!
  10. by   semstr
    ok, Nannanurse I believe it when you say you tried and tried.
    But don't forget these young women come from a very different background and culture. "Hurry up", "quick" or "stat" are words not very often used (and then with a different timing) in mediterean and balkanese Europe.
    Then as seeing the USA as their new homeland........do they see it like that? Or do they, as refugees I guess, believe they will be going home after a few years. That would make a big difference too.
    Hey, I know it is not easy to work with people with differences in their working ethics, but I don't think this is something just found in foreign nurses, housekeepers etc.
    Take care, Renee
  11. by   jnette
    Must agree with Smstr here, Nana......

    We as nurses are constantly being reminded to be aware of cultural differences and to be sensitive to them... I believe this should apply not only to patients but to human beings in general.

    My father, for whom I have always had the greatest respect, taught me a valuable lesson very early in life: "never judge a person until you have walked in their shoes". My dad has been gone a long time now, but his words will remain with me forever.

    As Smstr says... how could we possibly know what these women have endured and the memories that haunt them.. and surely they long to return to their home.. this being merely a transitional period. While I'm sure they are grateful for the opportunity to be away from their past turmoil, at the same time I can't see them totally acclimating themselves to our country if they dream of returning home. How can we begrudge them the joy of talking with their collegues in their native language... possibly the only scrap of their identity they have left to themselves? We have been taught in school about "culture shock".. this is a reality and I'm sure these women live it dailey, their world experience being so totally different than ours. As for learning our language, I'm sure they know enough to get by. But probably have no intention or desire to perfect it if they dream of home and hope to return.
    We chatter a mile a minute, and for someone new to the language, it's all they can do to understand the very basics. I'm sure these women feel overwhelmed dailey.. not only by the language, but by our customs and way of living.. the "rush, rush" way of life we have here, our priorities, etc. It's a whole new and unfamiliar world, perhaps even frightening to some.

    While I never condone or justify outright laziness, I do attempt to see beyond the outward appearance of things, and try to understand their perspective and how they must feel in "our" world..perhaps it's an expression of their feeling totally "left out", fear of their broken English not being understood or even worse, being laughed at... (yes, I HAVE witnessed with my own eyes OUR nurses mimicking and laughing at PATIENTS' broken English !!!) not to speak of the ridicule of other foreigners .......

    You get more with a genuine smile and sincere attempts at understanding someone else's world than with impatience, intolerance, and only seeing things from OUR perspective. Let us carry what we learn in nursing academics beyond the realm of nursing and patients... let us apply it to LIFE in general. These women might be your patients at sometime....why treat them differently THEN, merely because they happen to be a patient? That tells me it is because it's something we are TAUGHT to do as patient advocates, but not something we necessarily CARE to do, or something that comes naturally from the heart.

    Let's not be so quick to judge.. walk in someone else's shoes.. then take a second look.............And Smstr is right in reminding us that "laziness" is NOT unique to "foreigners"...so why single them out?
  12. by   rebelwaclause
    Originally posted by NMAguiar
    ... and if questioned on your floor by JCAHO, they certainly won't accept an answer in other than English.

    Case closed.
    ^5 NM....I can't imagine why anyone would think otherwise.
  13. by   rebelwaclause
    Originally posted by jnette
    how could we possibly know what these women have endured and the memories that haunt them.. and surely they long to return to their home.. this being merely a transitional period. While I'm sure they are grateful for the opportunity to be away from their past turmoil, at the same time I can't see them totally acclimating themselves to our country if they dream of returning home. How can we begrudge them the joy of talking with their colleagues in their native language... possibly the only scrap of their identity they have left to themselves? We have been taught in school about "culture shock".. this is a reality and I'm sure these women live it daily, their world experience being so totally different than ours. As for learning our language, I'm sure they know enough to get by. But probably have no intention or desire to perfect it if they dream of home and hope to return.
    I'm sure talking crap about someone's child in a public elevator helped them transition from their past "turmoil" to a life easier to bare in America? As I posted before, if someone is bold enough to say it, why not have the courage and guts to say it without hiding behind a language that's obviously an advantage over listeners. Kinda like, "Say it to my face"?

    I am ONLY addressing what I will call "Language Abusers", who for the sake of this post are people who use their 2nd language advantage to hide the cowardice crap they say. Again, I don't believe every 2nd language person does this, but some do.

    Though your argument is passionate, it doesn't hold up in a workplace that has informed they want English spoken. I agree with your opening, "We can't possibly know what these women have endured". But whether they're speaking Polish, French, Ebo, Swahili, Spanish, Tagalog (sp?) or Holy Ghost tongues....It is not appropriate in a workplace that has stated English only. If my employers announce other languages are acceptable ...then so be it, there is no argument. But if an employer says "no" to languages other than English? Then abide by it or find a job where "your" language is acceptable. Rules...Respect them. Simple as that.

    Save "personal preferences" for off duty time.

    Most know me as the one to beat a dead horse thread to the end. However, this time, I give up. It simply is no argument here to justify breaking "rules" no matter if the rule is liked or not. See ya on another thread.....
    Last edit by rebelwaclause on Oct 13, '02

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