I have been traveling for about 3 years now. I speak fluent Spanish and English and am quite proud of this skill. I enjoy having Spanish-speaking patients because I feel they are more comfortable with me and I feel like I am able to understand their needs more than an English-only speaking nurse.
The problem lies when I do not have the Spanish-speaking patient assigned to me and the English-speaking nurses periodically pull me away to have me translate between them and their patients. Granted, I am busy enough with my own group and feel like getting pulled to translate for someone else's patient just "adds" to my work. I feel it is easier just to give me that patient and avoid the pull away.
Tonight I mentioned this to another traveler at handoff and he said that yes I would be able to argue for a few more dollars per hour for being bilingual, and I am wondering if this is true. If so, I feel like I cheated myself for the last 3 years for not requesting this be factored into my pay.
Note that I still insist on staff using certified translators when obtaining consents or providing medical consults. But if I am being pulled several times a shift to ask a patient if they need a bedpan or whether they are in pain, it gets to be a hardship on my own flow.
Well, let's say you are ED and the only nurse who can do ultrasound guided IV starts, a skill no one else on the unit has. Should you have a higher bill rate and be paid more? Sure. But a direct higher bill rate is not how it works. These special assets are resume enhancers, which means you are more likely to land any given assignment over a more ordinary applicant.
Indirectly, a special skill or experience should lead to higher pay, and you may already be getting it. Your agencies are likely to offer you assignments at places with higher bill rates because they know you have a better chance of landing it (and filling their pockets too) than competing travel nurses from other agencies. Smart agencies also pay travelers with proven value at a higher rate as they have lower risk, again with better payback to the agency. So they take a cut in the normal profit margin they need to account for lessor travelers as an attempt to retain your services longer.
If you don't think these indirect processes are increasing your pay over other travelers, perhaps you should shop around to agencies that will appreciated you.
Unless translating is a requirement in the job description for which you are being placed by the agency, I can't see them automatically offering you extra pay based on anecdote. There are many employees with bilingual capabilities that are exploited on the job, but the majority do not get incentive pay, because the job posting did not make it a requirement. If it bothers you, then do not divulge your ability or politely decline to be used.
Also, if you really want to pursue getting paid to translate ... you should pursue getting certified as a medical translator. Not everyone who is fluent in a language is a good translator. Being certified means you have been trained to translate well and have the proper credentials to show for it.
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