3 Benefits of Being Bilingual in the Nursing Field
There are many traits and characteristics that make people the right fit for a nursing career. From tenacity to unbridled optimism, these qualities can lead to great success for those who have chosen this profession. Another strong skill these health-care providers can benefit from is the ability to speak more than one language. Being bilingual offers nurses many advantages. Let’s take a look at three:
1. Improved patient safety
Imagine entering a hospital or clinic for care and not being able to explain your symptoms and health issues to clinicians. This is an issue many people who don’t speak English as their first language experience when talking to health-care providers. As a result, nurses and doctors could miss out on critical information that could help them diagnose a problem right away.
Language barriers have a direct effect on patient safety as people may not feel certain information is relevant to their case. One example is of a mother not knowing blood in her child’s stool was relevant to the health issue that brought them to visit the hospital and not being able to communicate it due to a language barrier. Leaving this information out of the discussion could leave the patient in increased danger, depending on the severity of the issue. This could cause clinicians to run potentially unnecessary and costly tests to get to the root of the problem. That one piece of information could have saved both the family and health-care providers time and money if there was no language disconnect.
2. Increased cultural awareness
On top of providing additional comfort and support to non-English speaking patients, being multilingual could mean those nurses have had exposure to other cultures and values which, in turn, could help to make them more informed about diseases and illnesses prevalent in those communities as well as potential barriers to specific medical treatments based on religious values. By understanding these particular conditions and limitations, multilingual health-care providers can ensure communication between patients and peers is clear and accurate. And having someone on their side can make non-native speakers more trusting of their health-care team, improving overall satisfaction and well-being.
3. Heightened competitiveness
When it comes to the nursing profession, people are adding more qualifications – many in the form of higher-level degrees – to make themselves more valued in the field. Being multilingual can make these health-care providers more competitive as well. Not only does this skill lead to better chances of finding a job, but it can result in more opportunities in a nurse’s career in the future. Knowing another language makes it easier for health-care professionals to take traveling jobs, volunteer abroad or choose from language-specific locations for their employment. Furthermore, being multilingual can help nurses negotiate for a higher salary. Since this ability is in high demand, more employers are willing to offer financial incentives to add a multilingual worker to their staff.
The University of Arizona online Master of Science in Nursing program can help make bilingual nurses more competitive in their field.