True Understanding (T. Adams)

1 12 2009

According to minoritynurse.com the first big wave of nurses from the Philippines came after 1948, as part of the Exchange Visitor Program. This program allowed people from other countries to come to the U.S. to work and study for two years to learn about American culture. Originally the program didn’t target the Philippines or nurses specifically but was created to combat Soviet propaganda during the Cold War by exposing foreigners to U.S. democracy. With the cycle of nursing shortages after World War II, the exchange program became a recruiting vehicle for U.S. hospitals.
A few weeks ago my uncle—who was mentally challenged and suffered from severe cerebral palsy and scoliosis—went into shock due to low sugar levels in his blood count. While in the hospital my Grandmother was faced with a huge language barrier. Although she’s lived in Hawaii for over 40 years and speaks English it was still difficult for her to understand all of the medical terminology. My mom and aunt did their best to explain it to her but they too lacked the right words to convey what the doctor was telling them. Fortunately there was a nurse from Laoag City working at the hospital. He was able to inform my grandma of what exactly was going on. She was able to get directions on how to properly care for my uncle once he got out of the hospital. Without the nurses assistance I’m sure that my uncle would have been cared for no matter what, however knowing that my grandma knew exactly what was going on took a lot of stress off of my family.
Like many other immigrants the language barrier has always been one of the hardest things to overcome. It can be especially difficult when it comes to important matters like medical concerns. Filipinos that work in the medical field are definitely going above and beyond what most nurses would do. Not only do they care for others but they are able to give the families of those in the hospital a peace of mind and full understanding.

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