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Communication Skills in Healthcare Workers

Windsor Westbrook Sherrill and Rachel M. Mayo’s article “Medical and nursing student communication skills: Preparing to treat Latino patients” focuses on communication in healthcare settings. The authors’ main objective was to evaluate the previous experience of nursing and medical students with Latino patients and the effectiveness of their communication skills and confidence when dealing with the clients. Notably, Latinos are among the non-English speaking individuals in the United States.

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This factor makes the population a victim of health disparities in the country. The authors note that the populace of persons with poor English proficiency increased by approximately 24.4% in the last decade. As a result, language disparities in healthcare have been identified as a growing concern that necessitates hospitals, nurses, and doctors to offer services to an ever more varied patient population.

The literature review section of the article addresses healthcare delivery issues associated with ineffective communication, the significance of communication with Latino patients, and communication skills included in nursing and medical school curricula. A considerable percentage of Latinos in the United States are unable to speak English well. Therefore, a language barrier between the English-speaking healthcare providers and the Spanish-speaking Latinos hurts the delivery of services. The factor has an adverse influence on the parties’ interactions, sharing of health information, and the way patients understand diagnosis and treatment plan. This issue of ineffective communication and poor understanding is a key contributor to health disparities among Latino communities.

Latinos have limited English proficiency, contributing to poor such as reduced patient safety and satisfaction with care provided. Ineffective provider-patient communication also increases healthcare costs. For instance, it increases the rate of hospitalization and testing and causes reduced utilization of preventive care and non-compliance among patients. This issue of language barrier raises emergency department’s visit cost because of longer stays and additional testing.

The Commonwealth Fund Health Care Quality Survey noted that 57% of Latinos assume that healthcare providers comprehend all they say, and 19% fail to ask their doctors questions, possibly because of the language barrier. Therefore, effective communication with Latino patients is imperative since it can significantly alleviate health disparities among the communities. Healthcare providers need to be culturally sensitive and communicate using Spanish to better explain diagnosis and treatment plan options to their Latino patients.

The institutions that train doctors and nurses in the United States are determined to address the communication issue negatively impacting the linguistic minority groups. They focus on equipping their students with communication skills that are instrumental in executing their duties and responsibilities. Undeniably, outstanding communication skills guarantee positive patient outcomes, enhanced patient-physician interactions, and reduced care costs.

Additionally, these competencies contributed to minimized medical errors, organizational efficiency, and patient satisfaction. Therefore, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the American Association of Medical Colleges train students about communication and cultural competency skills to facilitate practice in a society comprising individuals from different backgrounds and not proficient in speaking English.

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Data was collected from a sample of 430 participants, comprising 79% females and 21% males from different ethnic groups to achieve the study’s primary goal. Questionnaires were distributed through emails to nursing and medical students from seven institutions in the southeastern United States. Data analysis results indicated that care students had little or moderate clinical interaction with Latino patients due to communication barriers.

Further, English language proficiency among the participants and their clients, as wells as previous experience with Latinos, influenced the level of communication. The article concludes that enhanced language and communication skills are vital tools that can help alleviate health disparities among the minority groups such as Latinos by improving accessibility, patient outcomes, and satisfaction. Additionally, effective communication skills are vital for practicing and positively associated with the assessment of patients’ medical conditions and creating rapport with them.

The research in this article is important because it sheds light on how much communication skills are essential in the equitable delivery of healthcare services. The article is well organized, making it easier to read and understand the presented. The introduction and the literature review acknowledge that the language barrier between Latino patients and care providers in the United States is a significant issue that contributes to health disparities. The methods of data collection, analysis, and presentation are simple and clear. However, the study focuses only on college students, who may not provide a clear picture of troubles experienced by healthcare providers when dealing non-English speaking patients. Additionally, the authors assumed that their findings were perfect and conclusive since they never indicated any limitations or suggested further studies with a larger sample or different demographics.

In conclusion, communication is among the fundamental elements that influence the quality of care provided to patients. Effective communication and language skills among medics and nurses can promote productive interaction between them and patients. Patients can express what they are feeling, making it easier for the physicians to diagnose a disease. Equally, they can understand their treatment plan and comply with medications. The article connects well with the real-life in the United States, where the health disparities among the Latino communities have been an issue. Additionally, culturally competent healthcare providers with exceptional communication skills are able to connect and interact with all patients, guaranteeing better outcomes and satisfaction.

Work Cited

Sherrill, Windsor Westbrook, and Rachel M. Mayo. “Medical and nursing student communication skills: Preparing to treat Latino patients”. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, vol. 7, no. 2, 2014, pp. 128-136.

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