Diversity.. at what price? - page 4

I am working in a large inner city facility. Corporate expounds the benefits of a diverse working culture. I understand the benefits of a large pool of talent. There is every nationality on Earth... Read More

  1. by   ZippyGBR
    Quote from ohiostudent'RN
    it there room on / behind that sofa if i bring the popcorn ?
  2. by   PhoenixTech
    Quote from Fixit
    Exactly. The newbies haven't 'been there' or haven't been nurses long enough to have worked in a large city where you are the only native English speaking person around.

    Also if someone posts a cartoon of ducking under a couch just after you post your valid vent, it tends to sway posters to think what you said is shameful.

    You have a valid vent/issue/complaint that many veteran nurses have dealt with. I'm glad you're not afraid to post something that some think isn't "pc" enough for their tastes.

    I liked Karen's post/suggestion.
    Excuse me...this so called newbie also works in a large inner city hospital that also conforms to diversifying our workplace. I work with Filipino's, Native Americans, Portuguese, etc., not to mention most of our patients are of Hispanic origin. All I do all day long is go from one Spanish speaking patient, to one Filipino nurse, to one Native American resident, to one Haitian tech and the list goes on and on. I don't have the limited scope of just a few patients to care for, being a tech, I come in contact with all of them as well as all other disciplines in health care.

    Being a float, I go from department to department throughout the facility and have had to make more than a few adjustments regarding the language barrier. And it is a barrier, no doubt about it. So much so that I've taken it upon myself to incorporate Spanish courses, (not just one), into my college curriculum.I took that action because I want to communicate more effectively with my patients. It troubles me when I don't understand how to help a patient because I don't understand what they are saying and vice versa. It would be nice if other professionals in health care felt the same discomfort and took steps to communicate more effectively.

    I disagree with the poster who said you can't make someone improve themselves, I believe that it can be mandated as part of a curriculum or licensing process to pass a certain level of proficiency in speaking English. Just as the article Karen posted outlines.Now, my reason for wanting to hide behind the couch as ohiostudent did is because this is definitely an issue that we all face daily, the OP had the guts to bring it up and there were going to be some fiery responses because of it. Not because I think her post is shameful, on the contrary, it was bold. I certainly didn't have the guts to address this issue. I really wanted to sit this one out but your assumption of my lack of experience demanded a response.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Aug 21, '11 : Reason: Formatting
  3. by   PhoenixTech
    Please allow me to apologize about the appearance of my previous post. I had three paragraphs but I'm having trouble with my browser. I have tried to edit the formatting 3 times and every time when I hit the save edit button, my paragraphs pop out and the result is the hard to read post above. I do apologize and appreciate the effort of all those who read it.
  4. by   MelissaLPN
    I agree with the OP. I work with people from all around the world, in fact in most cases I am the only native speaker present for the entire shift. I have noticed a breakdown in communication that has cost a life in one case. I have had a staff member unable to adequately describe an emergency and this left the nurse at a real disadvantage, unable to figure out the reason for the patients distress, while the staff member just kept repeating the only English word she knew to describe the situation. ( Which turned out not to be close enough to help at all) I have seen this to lesser degree's almost continually with staff unable to tell me what is wrong, asking always to " show me." I am not really sure what can be done to solve this problem.
  5. by   ElvishDNP
    We have a great mix of diversity at my workplace. I might have a Filipina coworker, a Nigerian coworker, a Kenyan or Pakistani lab guy, an Indian med student, and a Brazilian resident. And you know what? There is way more miscommunication between native English speakers than when there is English as a second language involved.

    I'm not completely discounting the issue in OP....just saying (as another poster did) that miscommunication is miscommunication. Can't blame it all on the folks with thick accents.
  6. by   Lucky724
    I don't think anyone expects someone to completely lose their accent, I think the expectation is for them to be able to communicate clearly..a person can "listen hard" but if the words the speaker is speaking are not clear then "listening harder" does no good. This isn't about not liking one culture etc. it's as several have posted..this is about safety - of the patient, the nurse and whomever else is involved in caring for a patient. If someone cannot understand the directions that are being given or the report, how can proper care, correct care, for this patient be ensured or potential problems identified? Passing a test on paper is not the same as speaking - obviously - if I am caring for a patient and cannot understand them, how can I meet their needs adequately and appropriately? Same goes for the caregiver - if the nurses can't understand one another there IS going to be a major issue at some point in patient safety. As far as if I were a patient or a family member was, I can tell you, if I am uncomfortable for any reason with whomever is providing care I have NO problem, politely but firmly, asking for someone else to be assigned. I am NOT going to take instructions from someone I cannot understand for myself or my family member simply because someone may get their feelings hurt - its too dangerous. Those w/thick accents absolutely can take classes to help lesson the accent and learn to speak clearer for this country. Speech therapy helps. When in Rome do as the Romans do. Yes, we need patience and tolerance, of course, but when a nurse is having to spend an extra 45 minutes at the beginning or end of a long shift to get report from or give report to someone that has communication barriers - somethings got to give.
  7. by   hiddencatRN
    Quote from Fixit
    Exactly. The newbies haven't 'been there' or haven't been nurses long enough to have worked in a large city where you are the only native English speaking person around.
    I'm a newbie at an urban hospital in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood within a large city that has a large population of immigrants in varying stages of English acquisition. We don't all start out at Corn-fed American Hospital in Podunk, Middle America, ya know.

    As a newbie, sometimes I get instructions in perfectly clear American English that I don't understand, and thankfully, my coworkers will patiently clarify with me when I ask questions.
  8. by   Katie5
    Quote from Been there,done that
    I can assure you this was not an exceptional day! It is the rule of thumb.
    Maybe physicians need to pass tests., however nurses, assistants, ancillary staff do not.
    I have the patience of a saint, that is why the communication in all of those scenarios was successful.
    Things are working quite well on my end, I was asking for suggestions regarding the bigger picture.
    Totally subjective.
  9. by   slackula
    The longer you work with people who have thick accents the easier it becomes to understand what they are saying. I too have worked in large NYC hospitals and have no trouble with comprehension. If you pay attention you can learn a lot of words in numerous languages.This can come in handy when working with patients. I once had an MD accuse me of hiding the fact that I knew Chinese. I told him to spend some time with our Chinese patient and he would also know Chinese!
  10. by   DeLana_RN
    Quote from MelissaLPN
    I agree with the OP. I work with people from all around the world, in fact in most cases I am the only native speaker present for the entire shift. I have noticed a breakdown in communication that has cost a life in one case. I have had a staff member unable to adequately describe an emergency and this left the nurse at a real disadvantage, unable to figure out the reason for the patients distress, while the staff member just kept repeating the only English word she knew to describe the situation. ( Which turned out not to be close enough to help at all) I have seen this to lesser degree's almost continually with staff unable to tell me what is wrong, asking always to " show me." I am not really sure what can be done to solve this problem.
    What I don't understand - who hires people who are unable to clearly and safely communicate? Don't they have to interview with their manager and/or HR?

    DeLana

    P.S. Just to clarify - I'm a non-native English speaker myself, having learned it in school starting in 5th grade (which is why I wasn't able to totally get rid of my foreign accent; however, others tells me it's very slight). If, however, I had any trouble speaking English, or had a heavy accent, I would have never decided to study nursing (in the U.S., BTW), or entered any other profession where clear communication is important.
  11. by   subee
    DeLana , there's no need to totally get rid of your accent. I love listening to people who are able to speak English well but still have an accent. Believe me, it charms most people. I'm not gifted with the ability to speak languages and I know how hard it must be to master English well enough to have a position which requires lots of public communications. Having an accent is not the same as being unintelligible. A friend of mine was having chest pain on the night shift in an ICU and her nurse couldn't detect what the patient was saying. The friend-patient, fortunately, was an RN and was able to get a phone and call 911.
  12. by   C287
    I'm not sure where you guys got that one of the little face peeking over the couch--but, that one's great.


    Hide. No, seriously...where I work we have a lot of cultural diversity because of the university and once I gave up trying to interpret what a doc was saying to me and I picked up the phone and dialed the language line ...after he got over the initial shock that I did that to him and was able to fix his problem, he was fine...we laugh about it now.
  13. by   nursel56
    Quote from englishhyacinth
    . . .My advice to you is patience. learn to listen without bias. you may find that communication carries on without much hassle.
    Oh, I see. If your language in unintelligible, it's my problem. I need to be more evolved. It's a sure sign that I must be biased! I hope nobody would be tempted to pretend such a transcendent state has been reached when the words "Pardon me?" or "I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said" are the same as saying "I don't like your kind" and are actually a barometer of your feelings about that person's cultural identity.

    What would happen if all you needed was to be patient and "listen without bias" and you really did have bias against people from one foreign country and really liked another, and both had thick accents? Would you be able to understand the latter but not the former?

    Maybe I just couldn't understand you. Maybe it really is just that simple. Not everyone is capable of reaching the proper mental plane of tolerance that would actually make a change in their auditory system in just a few minutes. It could take quite a while. Somebody might get hurt while I''m striving to be ever more patient because they aren't getting something they need -- that you know about and I don't.

    Quote from Laboratorian
    Talk about communication breakdown: there is a redneck, a frenchman, and a deaf guy running a department in my lab. ALL HIGHLY EDUCATED AND COMPETENT! But you can't understand a word they are saying. They go at it HOURLY like cats and dogs! You would think a fight was breaking out at the way they scream at each other.
    Sounds entertaining! :spin:

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