Throughout this spring semester, Community Health nursing clinical has been an eye opener. It is the first time where I was able to see patients receive care in their own environment and not in the secondary hospital institutions. With this experience, I was able to witness and absorb the challenges of triaging and treating diverse patient populations and the multifaceted efforts to establish effective communication.

The Community Health project I completed discussed language barriers and the ethical and legal issues surrounding translation. Providing holistic care is one aspect of the nursing field that goes beyond treating diseases and its symptoms, but also takes a biases-free approach towards understanding and evaluating patients. Thus, adequate communication is crucial to this matter. I was able to communicate with nurses, providers, administrators, and patients about their opinions on translation and how they felt about it. Surprisingly, I found that many believed that effective communication is just as significant to patient safety as any other health care topic.

In situations where cultural barriers and language proficiency are questioned, it is always advisable to use certified translators. Why? It is because these interpreters are competently trained in the patient’s language and the medical terminologies used in health care. With the rise of technologies such as the Interpreter Phone on a Pole (IPOP), incidents of confusion because of medical jargon can be reduced.  Using certified interpreting services  should be done to minimize possible legal and ethical repercussions, but ultimately the priority of using these services is to promote patients’ input. Therefore allowing patients to partake in their care and  be autonomous in their decisions, creates for better outcomes and develops therapeutic relationships in the long run.

Language Barriers Presentation by John Sok

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