Major Vent

  1. 16
    So this has lately been a pet peeve of mine at work, patients that live in this country and speak NO English. I can totally understand and sympathize with how scary it must be to be visiting get sick and be hospitalized in a country where you do not understand the language and what the people around you are trying to convey but when you LIVE here?!? Whenever I have visited other countries I have made an effort to learn the basics of their language to make them more at ease, after all I am in their country I don't think they should have to make special accommodations for me. But I am so tired of calling an interpreter to explain what I am doing 15 times during the shift, after I've already had them come up and explain in detail what would be happening and when throughout the night and clarifying any questions that the patient had. Do I need to learn more patience for my diverse patients or does this irk anyone else as well?
    Zookeeper3, Mike A. Fungin RN, mc3, and 13 others like this.
  2. 90 Comments so far...

  3. 5
    Quote from LouisVRN
    Do I need to learn more patience for my diverse patients or does this irk anyone else as well?
    It's fine to be irked; just don't allow your irk-ness (it's a word now ) to interfere with the care of said patients. I agree that people who live in a country should learn the language spoken there. However, you most likely don't know the patients' stories.

    Also, showing impatience with them may just discourage the patients from seeking medical care in the future. These folks are literally trusting you with their lives!
  4. 15
    I totally agree! I would never venture off to live in another country and not know or try to learn the language. I have patients who have lived here 20+ years and do not know more than 3 words in English. I have even been encouraged to learn another language. Hey, I've got an idea...How about no citizenship or Medicaid until you can speak English!!!

    I don't think the poster was suggesting their patient care was less because of the language barrier but by simply not being able to communicate effectively with the patient, I am sure they are scared and I would be too if I had no idea what anyone was saying.
    DarkBluePhoenix, mc3, voraciousj, and 12 others like this.
  5. 1
    I understand your frustration. My ancestors came from another country and tried their hardest to learn their new homeland's language. They still spoke their native tongue but understood that they needed to speak English with most people in their new country.
    annacnatorn likes this.
  6. 2
    Quote from ccampbell1012
    I Hey, I've got an idea...How about no citizenship or Medicaid until you can speak English!!!

    .
    Actually there is a language test in order to become a citizen.

    USCIS - Naturalization Test
    shiccy and RN1982 like this.
  7. 28
    I don't know why this bothers some people so much...

    I've spent time in other countries where I couldn't speak more than a few poorly-articulated words that had nothing to do with medical care, and I've been lucky to always have been treated graciously by the locals. In fact, they usually felt guilty they didn't speak better English! I was in Spain last year and got a really bad jellyfish sting, and my leg swelled rapidly and badly. Probably a dozen people helped me find a nurse down the beach, who provided me with excellent, thoughtful care, and just made my day (the last thing you want is to be yelled at in another language while fearing you're going into anaphylaxis!).

    Many immigrants are working their behinds off to make a living, and after 18 hour shifts at the meat-processing plant, learning another language is a little tough. It takes a lot of time to become fluent in a second (or third, fourth, or eighth language that English would be for many immigrants) - I took five years of French, and my language skills are embarassing when I need to use them!

    I love living in an area where I'm surrounded by people of all ethnicities, and can hear a dozen different languages chattering in the early-morning Strip District, and where taking care of patients who hail from every corner of the globe is second-nature
    ohioSICUrn, Getreal2011, madwife2002, and 25 others like this.
  8. 6
    I agree! We are actually starting to see 2nd Generation families with limited English - Cantonese and Mandarin as the mother tongue. Very, very frustrating.
    And access to the phone interpretor isn't always an option. Our pts now have to sign up for phone service - if they don't activte it, no phone. No English - no understanding of how to activate phone.
    It is very frustating. And even when you use an interpretor, it is difficult to make sure the pt understands everything being told to them.
    I've had times when the interpretor the family brings is a 10 year old child! And if you think I'm going to ask a 10 year old child to ask his grandma if she pooped today you've got another thing coming!
    CoffeeGeekRN, tvccrn, nuangel1, and 3 others like this.
  9. 2
    Quote from Pepper The Cat
    I've had times when the interpretor the family brings is a 10 year old child! And if you think I'm going to ask a 10 year old child to ask his grandma if she pooped today you've got another thing coming!
    Are you even allowed to use family as an interpreter? I've always thought that was strongly frowned upon, since families will often misinterpret questions and answers for the sake of family harmony or what they think is best, or for simple lack of understanding of what you are saying, and is also a violation of the patient's privacy.

    My best friend's husband works as an on-call Polish translator for hospitals, and the hospital pays for him to come in and translate before surgeries and such. Perhaps your hospital needs a better publicized policy on translation..?
    tvccrn and wooh like this.
  10. 21
    this irks me as well! my own mother-in-law is from a spanish speaking latin american country and has been in the us for nearly 60 years. she often brags that she never has to use english. her dry cleaner, doctor, dentist, grocer, lottery ticket vendor, etc. all speak spanish. in fact, she refuses to do business with anyone who doesn't speak spanish. she does speak english -- when she wants to. but the liklihood that she will admit to understanding english is directly related to how well she likes what she's hearing. unfortunately, i've had all too many patients with this same english "deficiency."
    DarkBluePhoenix, mc3, Jarnaes, and 18 others like this.
  11. 41
    My mother-in-law came over from Latvia when she was 14. Not only did she learn English fluently, you can't even tell she's wasn't born here. She graduated from college and is adamant that immigrants learn to speak the language like she did. When her children were born she taught them to speak English first and Latvian second. She said that when she went to school there was no option for English as a second language for Latvians, and her only option was to learn the language.

    Could it be that we are making it too easy NOT to learn English?

    Just a thought.
    Robin
    TerpGal02, DarkBluePhoenix, mc3, and 38 others like this.


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