The Hottest Skill for Nurses: A Second Language?

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The Hottest Skill for Nurses: A Second Language?

There are many skills and qualities required to be successful in the nursing profession. While this will always be the case, there’s one skill that’s been getting a lot of attention and can give you many advantages, setting you apart from your peers.

What is this in-demand skill? Being bilingual.

The Demand for Bilingual Nurses

Nurses who speak more than one language are in demand for a variety of reasons. Some benefits of being a bilingual nurse include:

  • You can almost instantly build a trusting relationship with patients who don’t speak English because you are able to understand their concerns, answer their questions and explain medical issues. Being someone that patients feel is on their side can make non-native speakers more trusting of their health-care team, putting them at ease and improving overall satisfaction and well-being.
  • You enable your employer to successfully work with a larger and more diverse demographic, providing care to a wider range of people.
  • You can help patients understand legal documents, take-home care instructions and educational pamphlets, giving the patient knowledge and feelings of security and empowerment.
  • Patient safety is significantly improved. Many people who don’t speak English as their first language experience communication issues when talking to health-care providers. If you speak their language, you can understand their symptoms and health issues, gaining critical information that can help diagnose a problem in a timely manner.
  • You provide increased cultural awareness on top of additional comfort and support to non-English speaking patients. There’s a good chance that, as a bilingual nurse, you have had exposure to other cultures and values. This often leads to you being more informed about diseases and illnesses prevalent in those communities.

Being Bilingual Makes You More Marketable

 Due to the many benefits bilingual nurses bring to the profession, being bilingual is one skill that can make you stand out from your competition when it comes to getting better jobs.

 According to The University of Arizona College of Nursing, 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. Aside from the benefits discussed above, 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. All of this makes you more marketable, giving you an upper hand when negotiating for a higher salary.

What Does This Mean for Bilingual Nurses?

If you’re bilingual and are considering a career in nursing, or are a practicing nurse, you may have a distinct advantage, especially as emergency rooms across the country are seeing an increase in the number of patients with limited English-language skills – and there is often no one on staff who can speak their language.

While most healthcare institutions offer translation services, sometimes the service is provided over the phone. Even though this is an efficient method for communicating information such as what the patient’s symptoms are, describing the appropriate course of treatment or explaining the specific care of a condition at home, it lacks the personal, face-to-face communication every patient needs and deserves.

As a bilingual nurse, you will be a tremendous help and source of comfort for your non-English speaking patients. By having the verbal and listening skills necessary for ensuring effective communication, you’ll be able to accurately assess patient’s medical problems, help determine the proper care and treatment plan and provide the highest standard of care.

What if You Aren’t Bilingual?

If you aren’t bilingual and want to enter the nursing profession, or are already in the field and would like to have more career options, you may want to consider learning another language.

As a matter of fact, since this is such an in-demand skill for today’s nurses, you’ll find there are several language resources available for you to study a second language. You’ll want to choose a language that would be most beneficial to the environment you work in and serve the largest population of non-English speaking patients you care for on a regular basis. Below are a few resources to give you a start when looking to learn another language for your medical career:

Whether you’re already bilingual or you want to learn another language to add this much-needed skill to your nursing resume, you’ll find speaking another language to be a huge asset in your medical career.

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