Growing up, I attempted to hide the fact I was bilingual. In fact, I was annoyed with how people kept asking me to ‘say something in Vietnamese’ because obviously they wanted to learn the Vietnamese language! I eventually told everyone that I only knew English and that was that. No one dared to ask me again!! (I guess I was mean back in middle school…oh the awkward years!)
However, ever since I became involved in medicine, I have the utmost appreciation for multi-linguals. I have been in situations where I assisted with translating for the provider or was the [BLS] provider during EMS talking in Vietnamese with patients.I was a bridge between the patient and provider.
Recently, I put on a holter monitor (holter monitor: personal cardiac monitor to record heart rhythms that one wears for 24-48 hours) for an eighty-something year Vietnamese patient. She had her son with her (who spoke fairly decent English) where they greeted me with warm smiles and started speaking to me in Vietnamese. (Side note: A good number of patients guesses my ethnicity wrong which doesn’t really bother me! I was surprised this duo knew I was Vietnamese or maybe my they saw my last name on my ID — that’s a dead giveaway). I never shy away from using Vietnamese and I think it benefits me since patients seem to be more open and trustworthy of me. I gave the patient and her son instructions about the holter and let them on their merry way. This story is so near and dear to my heart is because I have taken my grandmother to her physician’s visits countless times and translated for her. I like to make anyone’s time at a doctor’s visit as easy as possible.
This patient interaction (along with many others) was a friendly reminder of why I want to go into medicine. Not to only improve patient’s health but to be an advocate for the patient and invest in a kind of relationship where patients and their family knows you are wanting to help them!
I love the fact that I know Vietnamese (and English!) and thank my parents endlessly for teaching me to speak it! Even though I I try to connect myself with non-English speaking patients since they have a hard time comprehending providers that use complex medical terms rather than layman’s terms. I wished I knew more languages! Quiero aprender espanol!! Slowly but surely!
Thanks for stopping by!!
image taken from Google.