While studying for an American Nurse Association Commission on Nurse Certification examination, I was surprised to read a question regarding an African American male diagnosed with lung cancer. The question inquired how a master’s-prepared nurse would respond when the patient said he would have a better prognosis if his doctor listened to his symptom complaints. Interestingly, the “correct response” did not strike me as a response at all; it was an acknowledgement of his statement, given that statistically, despite his education or economic level, he would likely still receive substandard health care treatment as an ethnic minority.

I shared this scenario with my colleague Maria Krol, a fellow Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing faculty member. Ms. Krol, Peruvian by familial origin, and myself, a Jamaican American, began to discuss the unfortunate state of health care if this has to be a question on a certification exam. Ms. Krol shared her own personal experience of witnessing Latino patients, who spoke minimal or no English, unable to have their health care needs explained to them despite the availability of translator phones, an electronic translator, and trained health care translators. She noted the problem was often the infrequency of translator device usage and the lack of availability, specifically during the evening and nighttime hours, of trained health care translators. Ms. Krol also noted that in outpatient settings like clinics and physician offices, translator devices and health care translators are often unavailable. How do we begin to bridge the gap imposed upon segments of our society in America—the land founded upon opportunity for all?


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