There has been a recent influx of Hispanic speaking patients in my world. Pregnant, Spanish only speaking patients with only a person or two with them that speak limited English. I am one of those people who thinks if you’re going to move to a new country, it’s a must you make the effort to learn the language. I wouldn’t move to Japan without first learning basic communication skills. But, I also try to be mindful at the resources these Hispanic women have available to them. Or rather, don’t have available to them.
Back to labor and delivery…we have translator phones, and we can get hooked up with a translator at any time. Even 0447. When it’s necessity to use to translator phone, we labor and delivery nurses try to ask every possible question and discuss every possible procedure we can think of while we’ve got that translator on the line.
Of course, we always forget something. And it is such a pain to get a translator back on the phone for to relay a simple something like, “No, you cannot eat until after the baby is born” or “it is normal for that medicine to make you feel hot and dizzy”.
I took four years of Spanish in high school. I worked at several resturants with quite the Hispanic staff. However, it’s been YEARS since I had to try to have a conversation in Spanish, and I’ve lost a lot of my ability to speak it. But after having several Spanish only speaking patients roll up in to labor and delivery, I decided I could brush up on my Spanish. I got a translator app for my iPhone, googled several key phrases and questions, made flash cards with my important phrases, and practice said phrases when in my car on my way into work. I still have a long way to go before I’m in any way fluent, but I’ve made the first step. Thus far, I can ask our entire OB admission history in Spanish, give discharge instructions to traige patients, explain initiating IV’s, epidurals, pain medication and signing consents (with a fair amount of referencing back to my cheat sheets). I even went as far as to translate instructions for a clean catch urine sample, and posted it in the triage bathrooms.
Since brushing up on my Spanish, I’ve only had two patients who couldn’t speak any English. Can I tell you how happy they and their families were that I even made the effort to speak Spanish? I made a lot of mistakes (I told one patient I would be her “illness” rather than her nurse), have thoroughly butched the Spanish language, but I’m trying. And now I’m all excited to futher my ability to speak it. I think I might make it one of my nursing goals for the year. Get some CEU’s. How nice would it be to put that on my resume? Spanish-speaking. I’ll tack it on along with the RNC and AWHONN member that I’m in the process of making a reality. LOL. I feel so brainy with all this professional nurse stuff I’m doing.