The Increasing Demand for Bilingual Healthcare Professionals
As the U.S. becomes more culturally diverse, the ability to speak multiple languages has become increasingly important in the healthcare industry. It’s not uncommon to encounter patients whose native languages are something other than English. This can become challenging when it comes to providing treatment, both for the patient and the healthcare provider.
According to 2015 census estimates, there are roughly 56 million Hispanic people living in the U.S., accounting for more than 17 percent of the country’s total population.
Census Bureau findings have also indicated the Asian population is currently the fastest-growing minority group in the country and is expected to grow by nearly 115 percent, reaching over 34 million people by 2050.
As you can see, there is a tremendous need for multi-lingual professionals in the healthcare industry. So let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why you are so valued and why you may want to consider a healthcare career as a bilingual or multilingual worker.
The common bond of language
When you are able to communicate with a patient in the language they feel most comfortable in, right away you help them feel included and that you are listening to their concerns. It helps establish trust as well.
Medical terminology can be explained clearly and accurately
Being bilingual in healthcare offers you an opportunity to be of assistance to patients who have challenges understanding medical terminology which is often difficult for English speakers to understand.
You are invaluable to physicians as they can be confident that a bilingual speaker will communicate the understanding of the medical terminology to the patient and know that all critical information is adequately conveyed.
Having bilingual staff members saves money and precious time
Any medical professional is inevitably going to come across patients who speak another language in our increasingly globalized world. So having a workforce that knows that other language firsthand instead of having to hire or seek the help of interpreters and translators saves expensive costs.
Additionally, in emergency situations, time is of the essence, it is not advantageous to wait for an on-site interpreter to arrive to be able to begin treatment. Therefore, all the more reason to hire people who are already bilingual, or better, multilingual.
The desire to prioritize the patient’s safety
Language miscommunications with patients may lead to delays in treatment, patient confusion or alienation, longer hospital stays or readmittance, and sometimes lawsuits.
Patients may have trouble explaining exactly what they are feeling, doctors may not be able to give the best treatment to an illness, prescriptions may be misread and emergencies may not be responded to immediately — all because of miscommunication.
Many healthcare organizations are aware of this critical need for bilingual professionals to bridge communication gaps between physicians and international patients.
There are many career paths in healthcare
As the demographics shift across the country, the use of your language skills may offer top dollar for in-person medical translation. This can also grow into a second career of translating written medical documents, forms, and educational materials.
Research is another area where bilingual professionals are highly coveted to design and implement quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews that are inclusive and accurately capture the experiences and perspectives of diverse backgrounds, cultural contexts, and levels of health literacy.
In an industry where miscommunication and imprecise translation can have life-altering consequences, the ability to attract, retain, and support bilingual and multilingual employees has become of great importance to today’s healthcare organizations.