America is comprised of many different cultures, races, and languages, and after CNA training you will most likely meet patients from each one. While you have earned your CNA training certification, have the skills and knowledge to care for each patient, what you are going to do if you can’t speak to them?
There may be times during your career after CNA training when you have to care for a patient who doesn’t speak English, and if English is the only language you speak, care can be difficult. In order to provide the very best care, you are going to have to figure out a way to navigate around the language barrier.
Do You Need to Learn a Second Language After CNA Training?
When you finish CNA training, no one is going to expect you to go out and become fluent in German, French, and Spanish. These skills are no necessary for you to become a successful CNA. However, you must think about your career goals, where you are going to be working, and whether a second language could give you a leg-up on the competition before you dismiss the idea.
Let’s pretend for just a moment that you work in Los Angeles, a city comprised of mainly English speaking and Spanish speaking residents. In this area, you might not need to be fluent in Spanish, but knowing phrases like, “¿Necesito ir al bano?” or, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” might not hurt when providing care.
What do you do if you don’t speak a second language after CNA training and a patient comes into your medical facility and doesn’t speak English, though?
- Don’t Panic- Just smile. You don’t want your patients to see you flustered after CNA training. They are already stressed, worried, and in pain, and on top of that they don’t know what you are saying or doing. A smile will help calm your patient’s fears and your body language can help communicate your intentions.
- Communication Boards- After CNA training, when a patient cannot speak, your medical facility probably has you use communication boards. These boards help you cross communication barriers and explain basic principles to patients, and they can be used to properly communicate with an individual who doesn’t speak English.
- Interpreters- Many medical facilities that are located in regions of the country where multiple languages are common hire interpreters to assist doctors, nurses, and CNAs when communicating with patients. Some interpreters might come into the room and translate for you after CNA training, while others might translate via a three-way call with you, the patient, and the interpreter.
- Family Members- Family members can sometimes be helpful in interpreting what you say, especially if they have a basic grasp of the English language. Be careful however, when asking a family member to translate everything you say instead of relying on a professional interpreter after CNA training. Family members might not be as willing to pass along bad news or important facts if they don’t like them.
Communicating with your patient is a priority at the top of the list after CNA training. Don’t take it for granted after CNA training.