Registered nurses are responsible for a wide range of duties in a hospital, from coordinating patient care, administering medications and treatments, to providing advice and emotional support to patients and their loved ones. Not to mention, all during a 12-hour shift.

In hospitals, nurses generally outnumber doctors by 3:1. Typically, doctors spend only a few minutes per day with each patient in order to diagnose the illness and prescribe treatment. Nurses, on the other hand, spend a majority of their shifts interacting with the patients to provide for their overall wellbeing. Simply put, nurses are lifesavers.

Not only is there a need for nurses, but in the past decade there has been a growing demand for bilingual nurses, according to a blog from Data from the 2020 American Community Survey, an analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau, indicated that 21% of the U.S. population speaks languages other than English at home. Not only does having bilingual nurses support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it also reflects patient care by improving communication with patients who have limited proficiency in English. In a study on language barriers in nursing, nurses indicated that challenges in communication hindered their ability to provide “adequate, appropriate, effective, and timely care to patients with limited English proficiency.”

Georgina Villarrel, MSN, RN, a bilingual nurse with seven years of nursing experience in medical-surgical oncology, telemetry, and travel nursing explained, “There have been a lot of occurrences where I’ve seen nurses and doctors talk to patients – not in their native language – and things get missed.” Nurses such as Georgina Villarrel have spoken out regarding the challenges to being the only bilingual nurse on a unit. She explains how needing to translate for a patient, for example, causes her to be pulled away from her existing patients.

The U.S. is in need of nurses generally, and this includes bilingual nurses. Registered nurses typically spend more time with patients than other health professionals do, so it’s crucial for RNs to be able to serve patients to the best of their ability.