Are you a Multilingual Healthcare Worker? Why is Language Certification so Important?
Are you a multilingual healthcare professional who commands English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese or perhaps another language? If so, you are in high demand.
Case in point, the Latino population reached a staggering 59.9 million in 2018 (Flores, Lopez, & Krogstad, 2019), but according to the Pew Research Center, only 39% of this population segment reported speaking English “very well” (Fernandez et al., 2011). As a healthcare professional who happens to be Latino it is likely that you have been called into a patient care situation that requires you to facilitate communication between medical staff and a Latino patient. You have mediated everything from explaining procedures and risks to a patient and his or her family members to the complexities of navigating the U.S. healthcare system—all in a way that is culturally and linguistically appropriate. Why? Because you are proficient in the language, culture, and contextual barriers that need to be addressed to be able to serve as an advocate for patients with limited English proficiency. If this is the case, shouldn’t you be recognized and appropriately compensated for your language competency? Do you realize you stand out from the crowd? The answer is “yes”.
A 2017 study by New American Economy revealed that the demand for bilingual workers had more than doubled in the last five years, and healthcare companies, such as Humana, required bilingual skills for one in every four online job postings. Forty percent of those jobs included registered nurses (New American Economy, 2017). There is also a growing trend among employers paying a salary differential allowance (also known as additional compensation) for positions that require bilingual proficiency.
So, why is language testing important in healthcare?
It enhances your ability to help reduce the disparities experienced by linguistically and culturally diverse patients. As a multilingual healthcare professional, language testing and certification validates your level of proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Put simply, it legitimizes your language skills. You are able to elevate your professional profile and advance your career in a U.S. healthcare industry that critically needs this skillset. Certification makes you more marketable and provides you with the opportunity to explore jobs that pay higher salaries.
With language assessments, you can evaluate your language proficiency and become certified from the convenience of your office, home, laptop, or mobile device. Once you are certified, go ahead and update your resume, notify your employer, and get ready for your next career move whether it’s with your current employer or at that dream job that’s waiting to compensate you for being multilingual!
It’s a win-win all around… for you, your employer, your patients, their families, and the U.S. healthcare system.
Fernandez, A., Schillinger, D., Warton, E. M., Adler, N., Moffet, H. H., Schenker, Y., . . . Karter, A. J. (2011). Language barriers, physician-patient language concordance, and glycemic control among insured Latinos with diabetes: The Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE). Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(2), 170–176. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11606-010-1507-6
Flores, A., Lopez, M. H., & Krogstad, J. M. (2019). U.S. Hispanic population reached new high in 2018, but growth has slowed. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/08/u-s-hispanic-population-reached-new-high-in-2018-but-growth-has-slowed/
New American Economy. (2017). Demand for bilingual workers more than doubled in 5 years, new report shows. Retrieved from https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/press-release/demand-for-bilingual-workers-more-than-doubled-in-5-years-new-report-shows/
Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.