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language requirement

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by kvdlr kvdlr (Member)

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PatMac10,RN has 6 years experience as a ADN, BSN, RN and specializes in Float Pool.

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To me it seems like facilities do this to limit confusion or deliver the most effective care. It is often so much safer and easier to communicate to someone in their native language. I am on my way to being bilingual. I am a little bit more than an intermediate Spanish student, but not neccessarily fluent yet. I think it is nice extra for a staff member to be bilingual, but I don't feel it should required, right now at least. Some places desire the bilingual trait more than others.

Many people feel that since foreigners are in our country they should learn our language. While that would be in their best interest it's not going to happen with all of them. Also some may take longer to come to an efficient understanding of enlgish. I enjoy taking the time to learn a different language myself.

MY personal thought is that learning to speak another language is a way of me reachin out to my patient/client. Not that not knowing another language means you don't care, because it doesn't.

I think it would be a good Idea for all healthcare professionals to learn a basic intro in one or two foreign languages taht are predominate in their area. Just showing a client you took the time to do that can reassure them if their is a langauge barrier and they are scared and confused.

Edited by PatMac10,RN

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17,816 Visitors; 1,840 Posts

I just think it's strange that native, English speaking citizens are, in some cases, required to be bilingual in order to work in jobs that serve a population that refuses to learn the language of the country to which they have immigrated, regardless of wether or not English is the "official" language.

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MInurse.st has 1 years experience.

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I just think it's strange that native, English speaking citizens are, in some cases, required to be bilingual in order to work in jobs that serve a population that refuses to learn the language of the country to which they have immigrated, regardless of wether or not English is the "official" language.

I think "refuse" is a little presumptuous. And, what is your argument, learn English before you seek healthcare?

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17,816 Visitors; 1,840 Posts

I think "refuse" is a little presumptuous. And, what is your argument, learn English before you seek healthcare?

Please, I said absolutely nothing about healthcare. This prevails in all types of professions in certain areas of the country.

It's only presumptuous if you believe that every single person who is in this country, and who does not speak at least enough English to get around, is too stupid to learn English. But if you believe that non English-speaking people are intelligent, and they have been in this country for any length of time, then they are refusing to learn to speak it.

This is not the first thread on this topic so I've heard all the arguments; some are too busy, some are too old, English is too difficult, blah, blah, blah. It's all bullcrap! As long as they don't have some mental condition that prevents them from learning, anyone can learn AT LEAST ONE WORD PER DAY!

Oh he11, I was going to write more but I'm just tired of this argument. Think what you want. I'm done.

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carolmaccas66 is a BSN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

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I am surprised nurses can translate from what I have heard here. Nurses I work with - and the large teaching hospitals I have worked in - even if they speak a patient's language, are not allowed to officially translate for patients. They must have a qualified interpreter do it. Otherwise if anything is mis-translated by the staff member, this could lead to legal issues. I wouldn't be translating anything cos the patient can turn around and say you gave out the wrong info, and you would be in hot water (even though I can understand some words/phrases of some languages). You need to think of your license and it is legal to do this in the US?

Here in Australia I have seen advertisements for nurses who can preferably say speak Italian to work in an Italian nursing home for example. I don't think it's illegal at all; just a requirement for the job and it helps the residents.

Interesting point though poster.

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classicdame is a MSN, EdD and specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

2 Articles; 26,120 Visitors; 7,255 Posts

I got sick in another country last year and was SO grateful that the MD could speak English.

We have translator phones in our facility. So helpful when doing assessments, getting consents, education, etc. Makes nurse and patient both feel more confident.

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6,323 Visitors; 517 Posts

I am surprised nurses can translate from what I have heard here. Nurses I work with - and the large teaching hospitals I have worked in - even if they speak a patient's language, are not allowed to officially translate for patients. They must have a qualified interpreter do it. Otherwise if anything is mis-translated by the staff member, this could lead to legal issues. I wouldn't be translating anything cos the patient can turn around and say you gave out the wrong info, and you would be in hot water (even though I can understand some words/phrases of some languages). You need to think of your license and it is legal to do this in the US?

If you spoke the same language as the patient, would you refuse to talk to them during daily care?

When you are hired for a job especially in an area that has a large population that speaks something other than English, you can check a box that you are fluent in another language and the you want to be used as an interpreter. You are then given an evaluation for proficiency in that language by either your hospital or an outside agency. For legal translation, especially when it comes to signing documents, a certified staff interpreter is used if available before calling the interpreting service.

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carolmaccas66 is a BSN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

14,145 Visitors; 2,212 Posts

If you spoke the same language as the patient, would you refuse to talk to them during daily care?

When you are hired for a job especially in an area that has a large population that speaks something other than English, you can check a box that you are fluent in another language and the you want to be used as an interpreter. You are then given an evaluation for proficiency in that language by either your hospital or an outside agency. For legal translation, especially when it comes to signing documents, a certified staff interpreter is used if available before calling the interpreting service.

That is what I said - a LEGAL interpreter must be used for legal reasons. Using staff that speak a language - even if you tick a box saying you can - isn't strictly legal in Aus (donno about USA).

And no, I would not risk my registration for anything. Call me anal but a patient can turn around and say you translated something as wrong, or accuse you of anything and who will know? I think you have to be very careful.

One nurse I knew was getting a CLEANER who spoke a patient's language, to interpret medical information to the patient!! Do you think this is appropriate? There is NO WAY I would put myself in that situation, even if the interpreter was a nursing staff member - very dangerous practice!

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BluegrassRN has 14 years experience.

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So if you walked in to a patient's room to ask if they needed help to the bathroom, you'd call the interpreter for that?

I'm not getting consent for blood or surgery, or doing discharge instructions without an interpreter, but I'll do a basic assessment, ask if they need water, help to the bathroom, etc. I'm not calling an interpreter every time I walk into a patient's room. And for those who are too hard of hearing to use the phone, the interpreter line is a bust anyway.

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6,323 Visitors; 517 Posts

It's only presumptuous if you believe that every single person who is in this country, and who does not speak at least enough English to get around, is too stupid to learn English. But if you believe that non English-speaking people are intelligent, and they have been in this country for any length of time, then they are refusing to learn to speak it.

You also have to think of why some people came to this country. Many were escaping violence, war and politicial upheaval in their own country. It was either be imprisoned or killed along with their families for their political beliefs or for being at the wrong place at the wrong time or fleeing to a country that might accept them. Are they also too stupid for not becoming proficient in English before they fled for their lives? Many elderly people are also brought to the U.S. by their children who do now speak English so the family can be together. I would not ever tell an 80 y/o how stupid he/she is for not knowing English even after a whole year in this country. You honestly do not know all the reasons why people who speak a different language are in this country. You may just be making an uneducated judgment based on some sensationalized political statement on TV.

Some on this forum have said they found it difficult to learn another language. Are they stupid if they can not pick up a language they hear often in the hospital and community? The USCIS makes exceptions for not speaking English. There are areas of this country where some are totally among their own language with very little contact with the English speaking world. Ever been to migrant camps where people from the islands or other countries are using for labor in U.S. industries? Some also don't have the resouces to pay $600 for a Rosetta Stone course and a computer. If they live in a large city they might be able to take an adult learning ESL course but even that can be a slow process. Many are stuck with minimum wage jobs because of the language barrier and must work two or three jobs to make expenses which leaves little time for studying. Do you think they don't know they are at a disadvantage by not knowing English? If you have ever tried to pick up another language for a vacation or for a little medical communication, you would know how difficult and awkward it is especially as you get older.

I dislike intolerance in health care workers because there are so many other situations where communication becomes an issue. What about the hearing impaired? People with CVAs or TBIs who are now are speech impaired? Ventilator and trach patients? Communication is such a huge part of the profession and someone speaking another language is just another barrier or obstacle that the health care provider must be prepared for by knowing their hospital's policies and procedures for it. We shouldn't alienate those who do not speak English for whatever reason.

You are entitled to your opinions but at no time should it influence how you treat those who need health care. Unfortunately not everyone can put their personal opinions aside and it does directly affect patient care.

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6,323 Visitors; 517 Posts

That is what I said - a LEGAL interpreter must be used for legal reasons. Using staff that speak a language - even if you tick a box saying you can - isn't strictly legal in Aus (donno about USA).

And no, I would not risk my registration for anything. Call me anal but a patient can turn around and say you translated something as wrong, or accuse you of anything and who will know? I think you have to be very careful.

One nurse I knew was getting a CLEANER who spoke a patient's language, to interpret medical information to the patient!! Do you think this is appropriate? There is NO WAY I would put myself in that situation, even if the interpreter was a nursing staff member - very dangerous practice!

You do not have to be an interpreter. That is your choice. However, some of us do feel we can provide those services and do take the proficiency evaluation.

Many of us do interpret everyday for English speaking patients even though that is our second language. Often it is just assumed we are proficient.

Edited by GreyGull

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