Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hardest For Me

The hardest type of patient for me to take care of is one that does not speak my language.

Today, I had such a patient.  She only spoke Spanish and I speak very little Spanish.  I can get through the care and even the delivery...but I have a hard time admitting them.  I am always so afraid that I will miss some vital information regarding their health.  Once they are admitted, I can normally fudge my way through and get someone to help if the patient or her family members start to say too much in their language.

So, today my first assignment of the day was a completely Spanish speaking patient.  I bargained with another one of our nurses.  I took care of her patient for awhile while she did my admission.  That way I had the basic information that I needed then could move on to provide care.  Yet, I never felt like the patient understood what I was doing.  Yes, I can display compassion.  Yes, I can start an IV, do vag exams, read her monitor strip and manage the physical care.  But, I always wonder if the patient understands what is going on....I got the housekeeper to help me at one point (to ask the patient about her pain and pain care options), I kept asking my other nurse friends to help me when I ran in to issues. I just feel so frustrated though like I am not given the patient the best experience that she can have.  And that bothers me.

We don't have that many nurses that speak Spanish.  Maybe I need to take a class after I finish with my BSN.  Oh how I wish I had taken Spanish in high school.  It sure would have helped me now.  Much more so that the 3 years of German that I took!

I guess it just bothers me to think how scary it must be for the be in a situation (childbirth) that can already be scary in and of itself, then not to have someone caring for you that you can even talk to.  Yes, we have interpreters.  Yes, we even have a computer hookup thing that can get us an interpreter.  Yes, I can give a caring touch and smile.  Yes, I know basic words...but I am still frustrated and challenged that I can not give the patient the best is just hard for me.


Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Taking a class or two is a Great Idea and will be so appreciated by your Spanish-speaking patients. I bet there's an online "spanish medical words" thingie to help you. Try Hesperian Foundation out of Berkeley CA.

babyrndeb said...

thanks Lynda! I want to be able to give good care to my patients and it is so hard when you can't speak to them...