Frankly, I find little sympathy for Bridget Wright whose letter (Aug. 12) queries “Why Spanish?” bemoaning that Clinica Sierra Vista and other clinics cannot consider her for nursing employment due to her failure to become bilingual. In those locations, speaking adequate Spanish is a core job duty, not just a marginal one.
As a neurologist, a field where the subtleties of symptomatology and medical history can be so critical, I regret that I did not develop Spanish medical fluency by the time I entered my residency in San Diego in 1975. A core obligation I owe my patients, regardless of their cultural background, remains to communicate effectively and empathetically with them. I greatly appreciate family members who assist, as I do all professional interpreters.
As Stroke Program Medical Director at Saint Agnes Medical Center, I envy my fluently bilingual coordinator, Ana Henriques. Our center’s tablet facilitated translation assistance helps, but that I personally have meager use of Spanish remains “un dolor de la cabeza” for me.
Any young person entering health care should follow the European norm. Become bilingual, even multilingual. Understand, honor and help your patients.
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Alan M. Birnbaum, Fresno