Why do I need to know spanish to move positions at my job?


My issue is not long or very interesting I suppose, but it really gets me in the heart. I am a caucasion girl with a mexican daddy, raised in a hispanic community with my caucasion mother. (dad was not around) I love my heritage(every one that I am) but i have worked very hard to become an LVN in the state of California and have come to a wall in my profession because I do not speak spanish.

I work with a very large HMO, but am unable to move positions because I cannot speak spanish fluently.

At this point, it has nothing to do with race, color,or anything of the like. Just the fact of needing to speak another language in the country that I am from.

I totally agree, that if you decide to live in another country, you should absolutely learn to speak their language.

So why is it so different here? Why can't I move to a position, that I am qualified for, have seniority for, and more than capable of doing if I don't speak spanish?

This issue of language, is getting harder and harder to swallow every day along with EVERYTHING else you have to deal with being a nurse.

jadelpn, LPN, EMT-B

51 Articles; 4,800 Posts

This is an interesting dilemma. Does everyone need a spanish language fluency to move positions in your workplace? Or is this pertaining just to you?

Depending on the population that you serve, sometimes the position is such that you need to know another language. Are you working in the neighborhood that you grew up in, hence why you need to know the language?

Rosetta Stone has programs that are quite good. Sometimes community schools or libraries have spanish/english conversation buddies that are a cool way to get "immersed" in the language (for both the Spanish speaking and the English speaking person).

The reality is that we are a multi-cultural country at this point, and in order to communicate with specific patient populations, it is the case that sometimes one has to be able to speak another language. There is, however, a cool app that you speak into your phone in English, and it says it out loud in Spanish. But then you would have to ask yes and no questions......

Another idea is that if you are in touch with your father's family at all, or some of your Mom's friends--can they help you to "immerse"?

Sounds like an interesting winter project......


62 Posts

I completely understand where you are coming from. I am fluent in both English and Spanish. I too am Chicana (Mexi-Ameri) and I agree with you 100% about the issues of having to be bilingual. In my personal opinion, Spanish should not be a requirement to move up in any position. Unfortunately in the state of California where we live, Spanish has become our first language. I too get super annoyed when patients complain that their previous nurse did not speak Spanish or when they say that the nurses should learn Spanish. I always respectfully say "It's not their obligation to learn Spanish, you need to learn English." I don't mean it in a disrespectful way, but I feel bad for my fellow nurses. They are good workers and deserve to have the same opportunities. Also, it seems like I have become a famous interpreter! So much so that I get called from all over the place to translate! I can be in the middle something and Dr.'s or other fellow nurses call ME to translate! It is super annoying!!! So don't feel bad that you are not bilingual. Sometimes I wish I wasn't!!!


119 Posts

Specializes in Dialysis. Has 10 years experience.

My husband is Mexican and I am white... I am all about him teaching our children spanish... nothing but good things can come from being bilingual.

While I agree that if you are in this country you need to speak english sometimes when in high stress situations it is easiest for people to communicate in their native language. Not a huge issue for me here in Iowa but I can imagine it is in places like California.

Sometimes my husband gets annoyed with me because i insist his family address me in english... i know they speak it. If they ask me in spanish I answer them in English lol

Specializes in 4. Has 7 years experience.

Thank you for your post!!! My family situation is nearly identical as yours, except I am half Puerto Rican & I learned Spanish in high school. Although that was 20 yrs ago I still remember how to write, read & speak from then. I also spoke it with friends along the way. I never saw myself as bilingual but I def use my looks to my advantage & I am honest about it. I let prospective employers know I do speak basic Spanish & I get by. I can probably survive in TJ but that's about it. LOL....I too don't feel I should have too but if I want a job then I better be utilizing my skills. If you look at me then you assume I am bilingual so I use that to my advantage. It really sucks & yes it bothers me at times but what choice do I or we have? NONE. My plan is to become a certified bilingual medical professional so I would suggest the same to anyone.


33 Posts

You are not a "Caucasian girl" if your father is Mexican. Just saying...