While a proper nursing education is a must for being a qualified nurse, there are other nursing skills that are not necessarily learned in a classroom but are still important. One of these skills is the ability to speak a second language.
While English is the national language of the United States, it is not the only language spoken in the country. The U.S. is home to literally tens of millions of immigrants from all over the world; millions more visit the United States either on a one-time or regular basis. Spanish is perhaps the most commonly spoken language next to English, but many visitors, residents and even citizens speak Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, French, Arabic or another language as their native tongue.
It is also important to understand that even immigrants who do speak good English may not be able to understand medical terms and/or explain their symptoms in a clear and accurate manner. If even English speakers struggle to express themselves when taking to a doctor, how much more would a person who is talking in his or her second or even third language. It is all too easy for an ill person to use the wrong word or term, thus leading a doctor to make an inaccurate diagnosis.
For this reason, many health care providers are finding that it is imperative to have staff members on hand who can communicate with non-English speaking patients, explaining the patient’s symptoms to the doctor and translating the doctor’s advice and counsel back to the patient.
A Win-Win Situation for Both Parties
Bilingual nurses will have an easier time finding a good job than non-bilingual ones. In fact, employers located in areas with a high non-English speaking population may only be able to hire bilingual nurses. What is more, some employers are willing to pay bilingual nurses more than their monolingual counterparts.
Hospitals and clinics that hire bilingual nurses also win out, as bilingual nurses can help a doctor clearly understand a person’s symptoms and thus provide an accurate diagnosis. This prevents medical errors and the lawsuits that commonly arise as a result of such errors. Hospitals and clinics that are known to have competent bilingual nurses on hand will also attract more patients, as individuals who do not speak good English will naturally gravitate to those they can easily communicate with.
Nursing homes also hire nurses to work with elderly patients to provide regular or around the clock care. Immigrant elderly patients who cannot speak English need to be able to talk to someone who understands what they are saying and knows how to help them. What is more, bilingual nurses often have an understanding of other cultures that monolingual nurses do not possess. This cultural awareness can help a nurse make an elderly patient comfortable and at ease, thus ensuring a high quality of care.
While learning a second language is not mandatory in order to become a professional nurse, it is a good idea. Bilingual nurses have access to and are thus able to help more people. They are able to provide assistance to those who would not be able to get adequate medical treatment. Learning a second language certainly takes time and a lot of hard work but it is more than worth it in the long run. Aspiring nurses would do well to keep in mind that while a nursing education provides a diploma and certification, it is not the only form of learning that is required to be a truly good nurse. Good nurses make the effort to keep learning and enhancing their skills so as to be able to be more effective in their jobs.
About the Author: Ryan Ayers is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education and technology. In this article, he talks about the benefits of being a bilingual nurse and the many opportunities it presents. He aims to encourage further education through http://gerontology.usc.edu