Speaking native languages at work... - page 8

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   jnette
    Agreed, Rebel. If working in a hosp. with such a policy, one must comply. I, too, must comply with a lot of things I disagree with. Doesn't mean I like it, doesn't mean I have to agree with it. But that's life.
    Guess I was talking more in "general" terms... wasn't talking specifically about those hospitals with stated policies.
    Guess I p***** a lot of people off... that, too, is life. I try to stay away from the argumentative threads, but this was one I feel so very strongly about. Sorry, Guys. Still friends?
    Originally posted by rebelwaclause
    Most know me as the one to beat a dead horse thread to the end.
    Rebel, perhaps we should start some sort of dead horse beating company? :chuckle

  3. by   CaliNurse
    Originally posted by jnette
    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.

    "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...


    If you are looking for undertones I don't post them. I am faceforward. No reading between the lines with me. That is not me.

    This is suppose to be a conversation of threads not a conversation of undertones.

    Yes, you are right about professionalism is more than the language we speak. The topic of this thread is Native Languages and so that is the aspect of professionalism we are discussing.

    If someone is on a BREAK discussing anything with a co-worker WHO CARES what language they are speaking in as long as they are NOT in a public area of the hospital.

    This is not about mistrust, IT IS about taking responsibility for our choices. Unfortunately when an employee acts unprofessional the patients will think that is the standard of normal that the hospital has set.

    As an employee of any business you are a front line representation of that company. If the company want to be preceived by its money paying customers in a certain fashion than all of its employees should conduct themselves in that fashion.

    If an employee doesn't want to conduct themselves in that fashion perhaps they would be happier if they found a company that fosters the environment they would like to work in.

    A Medical Facility has a responsibility to maintain a certain standard of environment. Each contract with Medicare or Medical states that the facility will follow the state and federal regulations for all aspects of health care. Many of these are patient rights issues. If you are found not following these regulations that can and will yank that contract. Where would facilities be without Medicare and Medical money. Other insurance companies expect facilities to provide care at the same level that Medicare states. THIS IS WHY WE ARE SURVEYED. They want to catch us failing.
    The CEO and upper management are not the only ones who have to conduct themselves in this manner. We are part of a team. We are all responsible for following regulations and polices.

    Policies are written directly from regulations or from an occurance that happened in-house. The later is stated as a POC = plan of corrections. When occurance happen that facility states to the government how they will prevent this from happening again.

    This is not a simple choice that each employee has. The simple choice is DO YOU BELIEVE IN WHAT YOUR FACILITY REPRESENTS an if not do you still want to work there?

    I don't go to work to be "Cali", I go to work to be a "Nurse". I wear a badge that identifies me as an employee of the facility I work for. While I am wearing that badge THAT IS MY IDENTITY. If I am on break/lunch or out of the clinical/public area of the hospital I can have any conversation I CHOOSE.

    Patients are not admitted to the hospital to have Individuals care for them. They need a NURSE, a professional, that is part of the team of health care providers.

    It has been an eye opener to read these post. Many of us have different opinions. When you read these post many reference issues dealing with time spent off the clock or on break. During that time who cares what you do as long as you are a professional when you are on the clock.

    I am glad that I don't have to deal with this issue in the magnitude as it is presented here.

  4. by   NannaNurse
    jnette and semstr.............Please don't think that I have no compassion here.........I am a nurse remember. First of all, I DO know what it is like to live in another country. Not with the same avenue that these women have endured, but I was the 'odd man out' . I was asked to move by my uncle.......Sam that is, to Germany for 4 years. Leaving family and friends behind and trying to adapt.....it was not easy. I did try my hardest to learn as much of the language that I could. I was treated poorly by some and welcomed by most. It was still hard.
    I come from a family of many cultures.....my dad was Cherokee Indian, my mom was Jewish and my husband is Irish. I think I know how to adapt well and accept people for 'who' they are not 'what' they are or where they are from.
    These women are working in a hospital. It's not the Holiday Inn or working at an office that has closed for the evening. We are a HOSPITAL here and things get done a certian way. We have standards and the work is the same. I don't care too much about their 'personal life' and it should NOT interfere with their jobs. Sure they had a hard life........well, I guess I have a great excuse for 'taking my time at work and not being concerned if I get my job done on time'......by age 12 I was raped twice, been severly injured in a mva, have been hit by a car, mauled by a dog, lost a child, lost both parents months apart.....I could go on and on here...... You don't let your 'life' effect your job!! You don't take a job if you don't know what to do or speak the language. I surely would not.
    Your opinions are yours, mine will stay mine. That is what makes AMERICA great. My father was injured fighting for OUR freedom and if I were living a life such as these women and was given the chance to start new in a FREE country....I sure as heck would make sure I could speak the language of such wonderful people. Keeping a hospital clean is a valuable and HARD job. You have to know what your doing and these girls don't.
  5. by   NMAguiar
    As is usually the case as the posts on a discussion thread approach three-digits, I fear we've meandered off the original subject. It happens.

    Just to realign the discusson, we began with an opinion poll in a California hospital inquiring about nurses' feelings regarding other nurses speaking foreign languages in the workplace. Here was my response:

    I was always taught that whispering in public was rude. It makes others around uncomfortable as to what is being discussed and is exclusive-not inclusive-- to others.

    Speaking in a foreign language within earshot of patients, guests or co-workers who don't understand the dialect is the same as whispering. It alienates others and by its nature says "I'm speaking about something I don't want to share with you."

    In our hospital's very diverse environment, we all need to be especially sensitive to the cultures and backgrounds of others. No matter which of the dozens of languages spoken at (our hospital) we may understand, professionalism requires we adhere to the language we all speak fluently-- the one we used during our license exams and that all hospital
    documents are written in.

    Hope this helps!

  6. by   jnette
    "What are nurses' opinions re"......
    We all gave input. This is good. We may have differing opinions, this, too, is good. No harm done ! For the most part, I can agree with the points you are making, and for the ones I choose to see differently, so be it. Doesn't make me a bad person, right? It's not a matter of "I'm right and you're wrong".. we are merely offering input, different perspectives, little crumbs for thought. I respect and appreciate everyone's input whether I agree with it or not. Noone has to be "right" or "win". We learn from each other. That's why I enjoy the BB. Guess I felt like I was being flamed, broiled, (to a crisp) then chewed up and spit out by some... but this happens when your opinions differ sometimes... the risk you take when opening your mouth. But if everyone just shut up and there was no dialogue.. how sad would THAT be?

    I'm not offended by opinions or beliefs.. I'm offended by how people might choose to ACT on those beliefs. Big difference.
    We kool, then?
  7. by   globalRN
    Originally posted by jnette
    "What are nurses' opinions re"......
    Guess I felt like I was being flamed, broiled, (to a crisp) then chewed up and spit out by some... but this happens when your opinions differ sometimes... the risk you take when opening your mouth. But if everyone just shut up and there was no dialogue.. how sad would THAT be?

    I'm not offended by opinions or beliefs.. I'm offended by how people might choose to ACT on those beliefs. Big difference.
    We kool, then?

    jnette, I have enjoyed reading your considered and thoughtful posts. No roasting from my corner, just toasting you for your articulate posts!!
  8. by   semstr
    Ok, nannnurse, i think it is great that you are able to leave your personal life at the door of the hospital after all youVe been through.
    I know I couldn't, and I know others couldn't either.
    But as you stated, you think and feel like you do, me like I do and these women like they do.
    So? More talking and trying is the only solution, I guess.
    take care, Renee
    PS: I don't take offense about someone's opinion, and I am certain that you are a compessianate nurse!!
  9. by   rebelwaclause
    Originally posted by jnette
    Sorry, Guys. Still friends?
    Never weren't! I enjoy anyone who has the ability to debate and stand their ground. You've done this and a enjoy your posts....Even when I disagree.
  10. by   teeituptom
    Howdy yall
    from deep in the heart of texas

    Wowsa, reading all this has given me a headache and a lot to think about. I never minded a bit if people spoke different languages within earshot. I just assumed I wasnt meant to hear it and it didnt pertain to me anyway. and if it did and I didnt know it, then it couldnt hurt me anyway. Maybe Im just to simplistic. If speaking in a different language meets some basic need of theirs, then who am I to fuss about it. My second language is american sign language.And I love using it at work and in public.

    doo wah ditty
  11. by   mbg
    im a filipino nurse and i agree that in the workplace english must be used at all time speacially infront of your english speaking co workers or english speaking patients. Hospitals must have a policy for that ,though you can speak your languge with someone when nobody besides you who doesn't feel comfortable .
  12. by   LydiaGreen
    When it comes to people speaking in another language; sometimes people can think that noone will understand them except for the person that they are speaking to. I was with my mother and baby sister in a restaurant when I was a teenager. My mother went into the bathroom while I carried my sister to a table and put her in a highchair. Two women at the next table were talking away in what I recognized as German (my mother's family is Mennonite, but I do not speak a word and understand only a few). When my mother returned to the table, I could tell that she was listening to their conversation. She got very red in the face and angry and spun around... she fired off about a dozen sentences at them in German, their faces blanched and they were suddenly apologizing to me in English. After they left my mother explained that they thought that I was my baby sister's mother and were going on and on about how disgusting it was that someone my age was sexually active, etc, etc.

    So, even if you are able to speak in another language to your co-workers, it does not mean that you will not be understood by others around you.

    My instructor has also taught us that medical terminology is a language unto itself and that most people do not understand it. We were taught to speak in layman's terms whenever in the presence of any patient.
  13. by   gypsyatheart
    Originally posted by jnette
    Thank You, RNinICU ! You stated better than I did EXACTLY what I was attempting to get across ! I agree wholeheartedly with every word.

    And Heather... about the two discussing amongst themselves in Spanish.... so WHAT !!?? I don't GET it ! This was THEIR own PERSONAL conversation between themselves ! They weren't speaking TO her, nor to YOU.. they were speaking to each OTHER.
    Who are we to dictate that everyone must speak the language WE understand at ALL times ! This does NOT fit in with what we as Americans always like to portray to the rest of the world... how wonderful and democratic we are ! To me it reeks of something else. Sometimes people WANT to have a conversation between THEMSELVES... is that so wrong? If you were in China with an American colleague and saw something that grabbed your attention, you were on that elevator, with your friend and wanted to share something personal with her, are you saying you wouldn't have just automatically conveyed your thoughts/opinion to your pal in English? If for no other reason than BECAUSE it WAS a personal thought.. not something you wanted to offend anyone else by, by hearing it? Do we not do the same.. only without a foreign language.. when we talk about something/somebody out of earshot ? C' mon! Lets be HONEST here!

    I sometimes feel that the reason we are so bothered by this is because our country has only recently (in relative terms) seen such an influx of foreigners and we are not yet used to hearing all these languages we don't understand... it just "feels wrong" and it bugs us. Heck, I've seen many an American in Europe who was "OFFENDED" because "THEY" (the Germans, French, Italiens.. whoEVER) did not speak "OUR" language ! GEEEEEEEEEEESH !!!! It even bugs us when we're in THEIR country ! Perhaps in time as we grow accustomed to hearing more languages around us, we'll stop being so paranoid, feeling "left out", etc. I know we think we've been exposed to hearing these foreign languages for a "long" time... to us it may SEEM like a long time, but it's really NOT. We're simply not used to the idea of being surrounded by different cultures and languages yet. In time, this, too shall pass. My point is this.. why are foreigners not offended when they are surrounded by other foreign languages? Because they are USED to hearing numerous languages around them at all times! They've been exposed to this for hundreds and hundreds of years. We in America have been isolated and are only now being exposed. It's a new phenomina.
    Don't sweat it. Most people who are speaking their mother tongue with friends/colleagues are NOT speaking about US.
    And even if they were... who's to say your "friend" down the hall is speaking about you to HER friend back in the locker room ?
    Geez. Let's get over it. I'm comfortable enough with who I am to not let such trivia get under my skin.

    RN in ICU said it exactly right, so did Psychnurse. It would be a sad day indeed in this great country of ours to start dictating what language one is allowed to speak and when. What's next? My THOUGHTS?
    OK, I haven't read through ALL of these pages yet, but, HELLO, if you re-read the post she states that the 2 women in the elevator speaking in Spanish were speaking ABOUT THE PT.!!!! What if the pt herself understood Spanish, how insulting to be being discharged w/your newborn only to have a couple of Spanish spkng housekeepers speculate as to whom the father of your baby is!!??!! HOW RUDE, inappropriate and certainly not professional! I would be pi**edif I were that pt and heard that discussion, involving MYSELF!
    If they had been discussing the weather, tonights dinner, a movie, whatever, who cares, but to blatantly discuss another person, in their presence in a different language...come on!!! There is NO excuse for this! LOW CLASS!