How Do Transcultural Nurses Overcome Language Barriers?

Transcultural nurses are trained to take care of a variety of patients with different cultural backgrounds.

Their training includes growing skills in recognizing and respecting cultural and religious beliefs in the healthcare environment.

The largest challenge for them is overcoming language barriers.

The first task of each registered nurse and nurse practitioner is to assess the patient and identify the patient’s needs.

Nurse have to assess the patient’s English skills in speaking, understanding, and reading.

Some patients can understand basic communication in English but have difficulties understanding instructions.

Others are better at understanding the written text and have issues when it comes to speaking English.

The nurse needs to determine what is the best and most efficient way to include treatment or start a procedure via translation.

In many healthcare facilities, the best and sometimes the only way to ensure that patients understand terminology is to have a qualified interpreter clinical staff in the nearby.

To become qualified for translating medical terms to some language, a person must take a translation test with the medical terminology focus.

Also, sometimes family members can understand and translate the instructions to the patient.

Often, family members aren’t skilled in translating medical terms, and some important information can be misinterpreted.

If the nurses speak the patient’s language, he or she can accurately translate the medical instruction.

But, if he or she isn’t sure about the precise translation, they should always contact a qualified interpreter.

Nowadays, language phone lines are also available.

Healthcare facilities cooperate with interpreting services, so their workers can call interpreters on a conference call and rely on the interpreter to translate all information.

Using interpreter services this way is useful, but it can be time-consuming.

Also, translators are rarely from the medical field, and they lack an understanding of medical procedures to be able to explain it properly.

In those situations, a nurse must explain the procedure to a translator which takes time and doesn’t exclude the risk for potential misunderstandings and translation errors.

The technology development led to face-to-face language apps, which has been a popular method recently.

A nurse uses an iPod or another device and gets an interpreter to translate everything.

It is personal and leads to patients feeling more comfortable, but it is still a way of telephone translation.

The same mistakes and risks are present with this method as well.

A person on the other side of the line isn’t always clinically trained and often needs more explanation.

Also, many hospitals and clinics offer patient handouts in many languages.

The important information and resources, for example on the vaccine, are also available in different languages.

CDC has vaccine handouts translated into fifty languages.

Moreover, electronic communication is available on patient language as well.

Larger groups have their own cultural-specific clinics.

That is the case with Latino centers.

Latino centers and other cultural-specific healthcare facilities hire only qualified interpreters physicians, nurses, and other medical staff.

These centers provide care to special population groups and are focused on their community.

There are many resources for the transcultural nurses that allow them to provide the best care.

Nurses must be familiar and fully understand all translation services in their work setting and utilize them to decrease the misunderstanding and improve patient outcomes.

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