Why Being Bilingual Can Increase Your Job Prospects

With increases in immigration increases and a full-on nursing shortage, the demand for bilingual healthcare workers is growing. The greatest need appears to be for Spanish-speaking nurses. Only 2 percent of all US registered nurses are Hispanic/Latino. While a higher percentage of nurses may be Spanish-speaking, non-Hispanics/Latinos may not be aware of cultural differences.

Bilingualism is critical throughout the healthcare system. Patients tend to be more comfortable working with someone who not only speak their language, but also understand their culture. Otherwise, the integrity of the patient’s care could be compromised.

Bilingual nurses are needed all over the United States, though the demand is most crucial in states bordering Mexico. And the variety of Hispanic/Latino cultures only increases the need for bilingual nurses.

If you are a bilingual job seeker, you should subscribe to professional journals (such as the AJN, or American Journal of Nursing), and join Hispanic/Latino and non-Hispanic/Latino professional organizations. Be sure to inquire about collaborative efforts among hospitals, medical and nursing schools, nonprofit foundations and government agencies.

Of course, bilingual and bicultural healthcare needs extend beyond Spanish. Immigration is increasing from countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, which are places where medical care is vastly different from the United States. At the same time, immigration policy is staunching the flow of healthcare professionals from Asia. Since 9/11, there is much greater vigilance about who comes in. It’s harder for professionals, even folks with doctor’s and nurse’s degrees, to move there.

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