One of my classmates, Sarah Bade, gave a wonderful presentation about working with a patient when a language barrier is present.
Before you read the presentation, I will emphasize that this was done well. Sarah explored a topic that most people inherently know, but often do not have the resources or knowledge to do anything about. It is simple: when treating a patient who speaks a different primary language than yourself, it is better to have another healthcare professional as a translator. I failed to realize that it truly affects treatment.Incorporating more bilingual providers into the system may seem like a daunting task, but this could change the shape of not only our profession, but of healthcare as a whole.
Personally, I have worked with this patient intermittently throughout the last year. As a person of Hispanic decent with very little knowledge of Spanish, I can confidently say that communication was strained without my Spanish-speaking classmates present. I agree with Sarah and her conclusion. I think we as practitioners should strive to provide the best care for the people we are serving, any way we can.
Lastly, although this entire presentation is about a language barrier, I want to stress the capabilities we all have. As physical therapists we often have the skills necessary to interact, communicate, and even motivate people psychologically. I think these skills, often ignored or forgotten, are still our biggest assets. I want to say that although language barriers can be present, we can still have a relationship with our patient that fosters the same genuine care for them and their diagnoses.