Are nurses in other nations bilingual? Should US be?

  1. I had an arguement with one of my nurse practicioners yesterday. Irregardless of how any of us feel about immigrants, legal or illegal, it's very frustrating to have to treat a patient when you or no one around speaks thier language. I've encountered it many times, and most of you have as well.

    As a military brat, I encountered other cultures that told me that in thier nation, they were required to take other language classes in school, from primary and certainly be fluent in at least one other than thier mother tounge to have a university degree. I sometimes think that we should require nurses to learn at least one other language. My practicioner got HOT and tells me I am nuts. That other industrialized nations do not require citizens to learn a second language in school. Back it up.

    Can any of you help me with where to find data to back up my arguement?
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    Joined: Aug '06; Posts: 63; Likes: 24

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  3. by   Mulan
    I have no data sources to offer, however my personal opinion is that this is the United States of America and here we speak English, if you want to immigrate here then learn the language, preferably before you get here, if not as soon as possible after you get here. I feel no responsibility to learn another language in order to give you nursing care. If I were to go to another country to live or work I would expect to have to know the language of the country, I would not expect to go to another country and have the people there learn my language in order to communicate with me.

    I think Americans need to wake up.
  4. by   miko014
    I have to say, I agree with Mulan - if I moved to France, they would expect me to speak French. It would be nice if we all could speak other languages, but bottom line - our language is ENGLISH. I speak a little bit of Spanish and an even littler bit of sign language, and it has come in very helpful, but I don't think anyone should be made to learn another language. Last night I had a Russian pt who speaks no English. Should I learn Russian? I've had Somali pts, French pts, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, etc...you just do the best you can.

    And also...just nitpicking here...but 'irregardless' is not a word!
  5. by   JenNJFLCA
    I think it's a great idea to teach kids another language as they go through the educational system. As for adults, I don't think it should be a requirement to learn another language. I personally would like to, but not because I was forced into it. I agree with the pp. Come to the US to live, learn English. I wouldn't move to any country without learning the language. It would take time, but it's doable.
  6. by   Treasure30
    Good Afternoon,
    I agree with Mulan.
    I have worked in areas where every patient that came in spoke Spanish. Slowly, I learn how to communicate what needed to be communicated. I think Senorita is so elequent. It sound much better than Mam. If you want to be bilingual, do it. In Dearborn, Michigan which is predominatly an Arab community, the hospital have interpretors. Some hospitals I've worked, they pay you extra to be on call as an interpretor.
    As the kids say, "It's all good".
    Treasure
  7. by   rn/writer
    Many hospitals use a language line and a phone with two handsets. This can be a lifesaver in the middle of the night. But not even this wonderful service can solve all problems. I had a postpartum patient who spoke an African dialect that the language line could not translate. Her English-speaking relatives had all gone home and I was limited to using gestures to try to figure out if she was in pain and when she had last fed her baby. Very frustrating. And possibly dangerous.

    I feel compassion for the women who are in such a vulnerable situation, but I also get angry the way lifeguards do at people who swim out beyond the safe areas and beyond their own capabilities. You care about them at the same time as you just want to say, "Please, don't put yourself at such a disadvantage."
  8. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from Mulan
    I have no data sources to offer, however my personal opinion is that this is the United States of America and here we speak English, if you want to immigrate here then learn the language, preferably before you get here, if not as soon as possible after you get here. I feel no responsibility to learn another language in order to give you nursing care. If I were to go to another country to live or work I would expect to have to know the language of the country, I would not expect to go to another country and have the people there learn my language in order to communicate with me.

    I think Americans need to wake up.
    Truly, I could not agree with you more. Well said.
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    Just as a parent, I think it is beneficial to teach a second language to children. And taking a foreign language is part of graduating from high school.

    However I do believe that people should learn English when they come to live here.

    That doesn't help much in the middle of the night with a Hispanic patient in labor and no interpreter. I was lucky a few nights ago as one of our interpreters nicely came in at midnight to help out. But as Miranda said - it is frustrating to be a patient advocate when you can't make yourself understood to your patient.

    Leaving the political stuff out - I still think it is good for our kids' brains to learn a second language.

    steph
  10. by   Silverdragon102
    As an army brat and lived in Germany for a while it was required that we had lessons at school to help us learn the language but living in the UK with all the EU immirants arriving plus Asian immigrants there is no way we can learn all the languages. The local authorities have arranged for telephone interpretation as can't always rely on family to correctly interpret
  11. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from JenNJFLCA
    I think it's a great idea to teach kids another language as they go through the educational system. As for adults, I don't think it should be a requirement to learn another language. I personally would like to, but not because I was forced into it. I agree with the pp. Come to the US to live, learn English. I wouldn't move to any country without learning the language. It would take time, but it's doable.
    I agree completely with you as well. My husband speaks fluent German and fluent French. You can bet he'll be teaching them to our kids (when we have them). He learned German while living there for seven years, and he speaks French because it was required in school (he's British - makes sense they'd need to know the "international language", since most Euros have at least a working knowledge of French if they don't speak English).

    I think providing an interpreter is one thing, but expecting people to pick up second and third languages for that potentially "occasional patient" is insane.
  12. by   nuangel1
    Quote from Mulan
    I have no data sources to offer, however my personal opinion is that this is the United States of America and here we speak English, if you want to immigrate here then learn the language, preferably before you get here, if not as soon as possible after you get here. I feel no responsibility to learn another language in order to give you nursing care. If I were to go to another country to live or work I would expect to have to know the language of the country, I would not expect to go to another country and have the people there learn my language in order to communicate with me.

    I think Americans need to wake up.
    i also couldn't agree more .well said .
  13. by   P_RN
    Mulan you and I agree completely. As they say "when in Rome," and "when in the US..............".
  14. by   **nurse**
    Darn! knew I was hitting a nerve, but what I'm really asking is, does anyone know where I could go for statistics, some facts, on how many other industrialized nations require a second language to graduate from a college or university?

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