Speaking more than one language


So I wanted to ask if you feel like being bilingual or trilingual etc helps with getting hired over other people? maybe even if they have a higher degree than you. I'm just asking because I notice in south florida some of the older (or more seasoned nurse practitioners if you want to use that term) seem to get picked for jobs over the only English speaking nurses and some them only have a BSN (they did the NP before the MSN was a requirement). I know they have tons of valuable experience but it seems like sometimes with getting hired they have more of a edge on the market than we do even with a advanced degree (MSN/DNP). I don't want to start a argument I just want to get peoples opinion's, maybe find out what you have seen in your local market especially if you have large populations of people speaking languages other than English such as Spanish, French, Arabic etc. thank you in advance for replying.

Advanced Practice Columnist / Guide

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

9 Articles; 4,338 Posts

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 31 years experience.

I live in California where in some areas, you can say there is no single majority ethnic group as the percentages of racial backgrounds are evenly distributed among various groups of immigrant Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern, and Russian people and native English speaker who are whites of European descent and African Americans. That diversity comes with a big percentage of non-English speakers of various native languages who present to us for healthcare.

Our hospital does not specifically require that an applicant speak a specific language because we have so many different languages in the city to begin with, in fact hospital emergency room signage typically include English, Spanish, standard Chinese, and sometimes Russian. Our hospital have many in-house medical interpreters as well as a mobile video interpreter at our disposal. Providers can self identify if they are bilingual and we have a certification process that allows a provider to be certified as a medical interpreter for a foreign language they are fluent in (I actually did this as a bilingual provider).

I have, however, seen postings in primary care practices that have requirements for providers to speak Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, etc in the area. These are neighborhood-specific locations where the patients served belong to a particular ethnic group and someone who is unable to speak that language would be at a disadvantage. I have no strong feeling about it other than it would help immensely with the provider-patient relationship, trust building, and over all approach to care if both provider and patient are from the same cultural or language background

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traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

165 Articles; 21,214 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

We have a physician who speaks 7 languages fluently - he is phenomenal.

There are days I have trouble coming up with a sentence that makes sense in English!

That said, in the bigger cities like Chicago (I live in IL) bilingual ability is usually asked for in the job description so the only folks they interview are those that meet that qualification.

Since I practice in a more rural environment, my unaccented English is fine. However, I do have some Spanish-speaking patients and I do wish I knew Spanish.


332 Posts

Thank you for sharing traumaRUs. I was just wondering about this because I'm not going for anDNP for now due to financial concerns but I hope my being able to speak multiple languages will help

shibaowner, MSN, RN, NP

3 Articles; 583 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

Yes, speaking multiple languages is a definite advantage, even if the job description does not require it. Make sure you highlight this.


332 Posts

I know I make sure to let bosses know

I get paid for being bilingual. Hopefully, you will get paid extra, too.

One thing about interpreting for others - they seem to think that being paid makes it fine for me to spend

a lot of time translating for them. However, they don't seem to realize that I still only have two hands, so

can really do the work of only 1 person. That is, I fall behind in my own assignment while translating for

others. They don't seem to realize that it wouldn't kill them to do a BP or whatever if they expect me to

give a lot of my time to translate for them.

Might as well just give me the pt who requires interpreting and the other nurse take one of my patients

who speaks English only.


332 Posts

Thays a good point