From September 15 to October 15 Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the United States. During this time the culture, contributions and history of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America are honored and recognized nationally. The Hispanic population has been an integral part to the prosperity of the U.S. and they have left a lasting mark on the country’s culture and economy.
Today’s spotlight features Jitzely Rodriguez, a resident in the department of anesthesiology.
How can language be a barrier when it comes to getting health care services?
It often makes it difficult for patients to understand what their next steps are. Due to this, they may not arrive to their scheduled appointments or understand how to follow up. Additionally, the provider may not fully fulfill the patients’ requests due to this barrier.
How has being a Spanish speaking provider helped you to better serve clients or do your job better in general?
When I meet Spanish-speaking patients before surgery, there’s an instant connection and trust. We discuss our backgrounds, favorite foods, and home memories to ease their nerves. They know I’ll care for them as if they were my own family, and it’s rewarding to provide them this comfort before surgery.
How do we overcome the language barriers in order to provide better care?
Through my experience, I’ve learned that leading with patience and empathy is the best way to initially approach these challenges. Can you even begin to imagine undergoing surgery in a country where you don’t understand the language? We need to utilize our resources available to us, even if limited. For instance, ensuring a translator is used to provide fully informed consent during important discussions and waiting for the translator to complete what was communicated before proceeding, especially when performing procedures. Ensuring patients understand the process is crucial and can greatly benefit them.
What does your Hispanic heritage mean to you?
It means being raised by a group of people who work extremely hard and innately want to take care of others. These qualities are embedded into our culture. I’m so grateful to have the privilege to be in the position that I am in. I recognize that I am only here because of the efforts of those before me. In the health care environment, I am especially honored when giving back to the Spanish community which has given so much to me.