By Eliza Joy
Organized and run by nursing students, the Spanish for Nurses club helps its members learn the necessary skills to communicate with patients whose primary language is Spanish. About the purpose of the club, its president, Kristina Hoyt, said, “The purpose of Spanish for Nurses is to help BYU Nursing Students feel confident communicating with their Spanish-speaking patients and give them the tools to connect with and serve the Latino community.”
Club meetings begin with a prayer that brings the purpose of the meeting into sharp focus. Then, before instructors start teaching, the club does something they call “Culture Minute.” Spanish is spoken in about 20 countries around the globe, all with a unique culture. During Culture Minute, a club member with knowledge of a country’s customs, from a mission or other contact, shares with the club an aspect of that culture. As students are seeking not only communication but connection, this Culture Minute is essential to building an awareness and understanding for patients from different backgrounds.
After the Culture Minute, the club splits into two groups: the beginner class and the intermediate/advanced class. In the beginner class, three instructors work to teach club members medical terms in Spanish. In this most recent meeting, the focus was on vitals, as well as simple patient instructions such as sitting and standing. Nursing students also learned how to introduce themselves in Spanish. In the more advanced class, participants role-play as patients and nurses while communicating in Spanish. They are also taught more specific and advanced medical terms.
When it comes to deciding what is taught in the club meetings, instructors and the club’s presidency discuss what would be most helpful to the club members. One of the instructors, Kayla Taylor, said about this process, “We pick a topic that seems to be pertinent to the moment or things that other students in the club want to learn about.” In a recent club meeting, students learned how to discuss COVID-19 in Spanish so as to help patients understand the symptoms and risks during this pandemic.
Rachel Himes, a member of the club, shared her experience on why she feels learning Spanish is important. When she worked in a COVID-19 clinic, she was often the only Spanish speaker. The patients she helped were able to feel comforted. Patients not being able to convey what they’re feeling is stressful, and even if a nurse isn’t fluent, reaching out in a patient’s native language brings them a lot of peace. Natalie Humle, another student in the club, said that although the club doesn’t give her any school credit, putting in the effort to connect with patients is worth the effort.
Whether you took it in high school, served a Spanish-speaking mission, or don’t know a single word, the Spanish for Nurses Club has a place for you! With an hour of your time once a week, you can build your ability to better serve patients and expand your intellect. Kristina Hoyt said, “The founder, Dallin Williams, started the club because he wanted to learn more medical Spanish but was unable to take the BYU Medical Spanish course due to his busy nursing school schedule. Starting the club and learning more helped him to feel more comfortable talking to Spanish-speaking patients at clinicals and where he worked. The club has also done the same for me!”
Spanish for Nurses meets from 5 to 6 PM every Tuesday evening—except the third Tuesday of each month—in room 490 of the Kimball Tower.