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Being bilingual in the healthcare industry

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Throughout the past century, the United States has been viewed as the world's leading melting pot. By offering its citizens unprecedented freedoms in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, the nation has attracted millions of individuals – of various ages, races and cultural backgrounds – from all four corners of the world.  

As globalization continues to expand and immigrants relocate to the United States, many industries will be impacted as they must utilize their workforces to serve foreign customers. Arguably, no other industry has been as directly impacted by globalization as the health care industry.

While treating foreign patients for numerous maladies and working to improve their overall well-being, health care professionals must overcome cultural and language barriers; if they do not, patients may receive improper treatment options and may also be insulted by the lack of consideration of their unique cultural ideals.

To remedy this situation, health care facilities must hire bilingual medical professionals who fluently speak two or more languages. While positively influencing the operations of health care organizations and improving patient care, bilingual workers are well-rewarded for their language capabilities.

Improved Life-long Employability Options

According to the United States Census Bureau, the nation's Asian and Hispanic populations are projected to increase significantly throughout the next few decades. By 2050, Asian and Pacific Islander populations may increase by up to 41 million, while more than 20 percent of the nation's population will likely be Hispanic.

Consequently, health care facilities will require an increased number of bilingual staff members. Such employees will effectively communicate with patients on various topics, including treatment options, the causes of their specific maladies, the progress of their care management and issues, such as family relations, that are not necessarily specific to the medical field itself.

By advancing their proficiency in languages aside from English, medical professionals increase their chances of finding employment throughout all stages of their careers. Even though the condition of the nation's economy tends to vary from year to year, positions will be available in both large and small cities well into the future.

As an orthopedic surgeon based in Troy, Mich., Dr. Donald Knapke has personally witnessed the vast opportunities that bilingual health care employees have on a daily basis.

"Undoubtedly, bilingual workers are much more marketable to health care employers than workers who only speak English," Knapke said. "This is especially well-noticed in large, Spanish populated cities like Dallas and Los Angeles."

Increased Payment Opportunities are Available

Since bilingual health care professionals are highly demanded throughout the nation, many medical facilities and hospitals are willing to offer additional incentives to bilingual workers, primarily in the form of increased annual salaries or bonuses.

In addition to providing secure employment, the United States health care industry's competitive salary options attract skilled bilingual professionals from all regions of the world.

Quite simply, the advantages of knowing multiple languages are endless, especially within the health care industry, and will continue to be throughout the coming years.

Last Updated: 15/03/2011 - 9:00 PM

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