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Rising demand for healthcare professionals who speak foreign languages

In the expansive healthcare field, knowledge of a second language, such as Spanish, can provide many advantages for both medical services needing to make hires and candidates looking for additional skills to improve their abilities in the field.

With an increasing number of citizens in the United States who do not speak English as their first language, an employee with knowledge in additional languages can pay off drastically in service and diagnosis situations. For healthcare providers, better communication with patients will improve the quality of overall care, the importance of which cannot be overlooked.

Hiring managers looking to bring on new professionals in the healthcare community should emphasize the importance of speaking additional languages in their training and recruiting documents, especially in consideration of patient satisfaction scores. A recently introduced aspect of the Affordable Care Act is expected to tie hospital payments to consumer satisfaction, according to ThinkProgress, measuring patient responses to surveys that question how well they felt they were served by their doctors, nurses and other staff. Hospitals planning to take on Medicare patients will see reimbursement cuts redistributed to the highest-performing hospitals, which belies the importance of communication skills – almost $1 billion is at stake, and hospitals with low scores may lose some of the money.

Patients who cannot speak English may struggle to express specific ailments and why they are seeking care, but hospitals that can accommodate them may lead to an overall increase in service ability. Patients who can feel more comfortable and understand what is going on throughout the medical process can feel more at ease throughout their stay, improving their overall experience, which can bode well for the overall scores they give their stays. Additionally, for healthcare staff, the ability to more accurately target ailments can lower the average length of patient visits, making the entire process more efficient.

Interpreters increasingly sought
In addition to the rise in demand for bilingual healthcare staff, hiring managers are increasingly searching for candidates skilled as interpreters and translators, according to the Omaha World-Herald. These positions have been sought in healthcare fields in recent years as they allow healthcare professionals to treat a large number of patients who require care, as well as better inform those patients about how and what they need to do to ensure their continued health.

Lowering rates of readmission can also be key for hospitals, as overly high rates can lead to fines – especially prevalent when tied into survey results. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are in the balance according to Transformative Health, as penalties are set to as much as double this year. The most common reason for readmission is poor communication, and preserving the message without any additional changes in care can be the difference between life and death in some extreme cases, especially in the emergency room. Patients often don't understand the instructions given to them, which can become an even more pressing problem when concerning the language gap.

Knowledge of additional languages can give healthcare job candidates a leg up on their competition in the field. For job seekers in the healthcare field, bilingual ability should always be emphasized on resumes and in interviews, as prospective employers will often see you as a more valuable candidate when it comes to overall quality of care.

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