While globalization created many opportunities for people to learn, travel, and conduct business, it also made access to medical care easier. As a consequence, people around the world have become more aware of health issues in other countries. The role of family nurse practitioners is revolutionary in the delivery of primary health care, addressing unmet health needs worldwide. In these circumstances, the responsibilities of the nurse in the global healthcare system have changed and become critical. Unfortunately, worldwide, there is also a number of issues relating to nursing, as well as a lack of policies and jurisdictions that could regulate such problems. This paper aims to describe challenges in connection with the globalization of healthcare and develop and propose a policy change.
First of all, it is essential to note that nurses have always been employed in global medical care. For this reason, nurses are required regularly to provide their services in different countries for various types of patients. This care is supposed to improve the global health situation. Researchers also note that “increased globalization has led to an expanded awareness of the importance of global health and global nursing among students and faculty in the health professions and among policymakers and practitioners” (Wilson et al., 2016, p. 1529). Nevertheless, globalization also produced new challenges that have an impact on not only nurses’ work but on the whole health care system as well.
Fortunately, there are also some positive changes in this field, to which nurses are able to contribute because of their role and education. Well-educated professional nurses will enhance access to treatment and improve their patients’ condition. In concentrating primarily on the role of family nurse practitioners, the importance of personal and family-based care is emphasized, and the opportunity to resolve unresolved healthcare problems both in developed and underdeveloped countries arises.
It is evident that working in global healthcare also means that sometimes medical staff will have to work with patients from other countries. For instance, often, health professionals have to work with immigrants or with patients in underdeveloped countries. According to Meuter et al. (2015), “the rising number of migrant patients and foreign-trained staff means that communication errors between a healthcare practitioner and patient when one or both are speaking a second language are increasingly likely” (p. 371). Such an implication suggests that one of the biggest challenges for nurses is overcoming language barriers. Linguistic differences may drastically change the way nurses work and manage treatment.
There is an apparent problem that needs to be resolved since the lack of communication in this field can be dangerous and even life-threatening. While in developed countries the access to healthcare is relatively easier, in the developing world, there are not enough resources to provide essential services for their citizens. In the U.S., there is also a lack of consistent official policies that are concerned with closing the language barrier gap. The absence of policies and specific guidelines on providing proper communication negatively affects nursing practice and inhibits the appropriate treatment for their patients. Moreover, even in cases where medical workers speak two or more languages, they may find that without sufficient support, their skill to speak another language results in an extra burden. In addition, the shortage of consistent and inclusive organizational practices may increase the amount of work and lead to professional burnout.
The importance of finding a solution is also discussed by many researchers. For example, Kooienga and Carryer (2015) note that “the need for a universal global standard must be supported vigorously by international and national nursing groups to control the ad hoc and uncertain development of the role across an increasingly globalized world” (p. 806). Therefore, family practitioners and policymakers need to realize the importance of overcoming such challenges to improve their communication with patients around the globe. Despite the lack of proper policies, it is possible to make a change.
One of the primary modifications that can be implemented is providing training in international communication for medical staff. According to researchers, there are apparent gaps “in the literature regarding intercultural communication resources for students, academics and clinicians” (Henderson et al., 2016, p. 74). As a result, nurses often do not feel as adequately prepared for working in global healthcare. There are a number of cases where a language barrier may become a problem, for example, pain management, interactions between a doctor and a patient, acute situations, and diagnosis (Van Rosse et al., 2015). Moreover, it is also possible to include basic language programs in order for nurses to be able to talk with patients about their conditions. This idea proved to be successful as “the successful implementation of language access programs in the U.S. contributed to the increased interest in understanding how these programs impact care for patients in the U.S.” (Schwei et al., 2016, p. 43). Providing such a professional service can drastically improve the treatment outcome.
It would also be beneficial to employ interpreters in hospitals. The employment of a qualified translator should be supported and paid for by the hospital. It has been already reported by researchers that professionally trained interpreters are capable of providing “better translations and cause less technical errors than non-professional interpreters” (Ali & Watson, 2018, p. 1259). Moreover, the medical staff should also be given training and information on how to work with them.
It is apparent that such changes in policies should be supervised and evaluated in order to determine their relevance to medical staff. Ali and Johnson (2017) believe that all stakeholders should be consulted while developing or assessing new regulations. However, they need to be aware of the gains that such changes could bring. In order to draw the attention of stakeholders, an advertising campaign should be implemented that will promote benefits policy changes that can positively influence the provision of care.
Nevertheless, for the purpose of evaluating such technologies, adequate and regular reporting should be done by policymakers, thus highlighting all the factors of overcoming communication issues. Moreover, nurses should take part in the creation of policies regarding language issues. In order to ensure the effectiveness of programs, they should be able to provide feedback by reporting on the advantages or disadvantages of current strategies.
In conclusion, it would appear that while globalization broke several barriers in medical care, it has created more issues that need attention. The role of a family nurse continues to be one of the most important in this field. Therefore, it becomes apparent that a staff who is able to communicate in multiple languages can contribute to enhancing the results of treatment. Further research needs to be done on this issue to ensure that the changes in policies will resolve the problem of the language barrier in global healthcare. In this way, it would be possible to mitigate communication issues and eliminate safety risks for patients.
Ali, P. A., & Johnson, S. (2017). Speaking my patient’s language: Bilingual nurses’ perspective about provision of language concordant care to patients with limited English proficiency. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 73(2), 421-432.
Ali, P. A., & Watson, R. (2018). Language barriers and their impact on provision of care to patients with limited English proficiency: Nurses’ perspectives. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(5-6), 1152-1160.
Henderson, S., Barker, M., & Mak, A. (2016). Strategies used by nurses, academics and students to overcome intercultural communication challenges. Nurse Education in Practice, 16(1), 71-78.
Kooienga, S. A., & Carryer, J. B. (2015). Globalization and advancing primary health care nurse practitioner practice. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 11(8), 804-811.
Meuter, R. F., Gallois, C., Segalowitz, N. S., Ryder, A. G., & Hocking, J. (2015). Overcoming language barriers in healthcare: A protocol for investigating safe and effective communication when patients or clinicians use a second language. BMC Health Services Research, 15(1), 371.
Schwei, R. J., Del Pozo, S., Agger-Gupta, N., Alvarado-Little, W., Bagchi, A., Chen, A. H., Diamond, L., Gany, F., Wong, D., & Jacobs, E. A. (2016). Changes in research on language barriers in health care since 2003: A cross-sectional review study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 54, 36-44.
Van Rosse, F., de Bruijne, M., Suurmond, J., Essink-Bot, M. L., & Wagner, C. (2016). Language barriers and patient safety risks in hospital care. A mixed methods study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 54, 45-53.
Wilson, L., Mendes, I. A. C., Klopper, H., Catrambone, C., Al‐Maaitah, R., Norton, M. E., & Hill, M. (2016). ‘Global health’ and ‘global nursing’: Proposed definitions from The Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(7), 1529-1540.