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Health care professionals deal with patients from all types of cultures and backgrounds, and nurses need to be well-versed in understanding their patient's needs. While learning sign language may not result in a better job or more money, it is certainly beneficial to learn.
Improved Communication Skills
Learning sign language can be a benefit for anyone in the health care field. It will be of more use to a nurse who commonly works with deaf patients, but it is a great resource to know in any workplace. Many pediatric clinics and hospitals have specialized services for hard of hearing patients and can be a good place to utilize signing skills. By understanding sign language, you are opening up the lines of communication with children and adults who have hearing damage and making both your job and the patients' lives easier.
Though there is not any evidence that being multilingual results in more pay, the ability to understand more than one language is a highly sought skill. In the field of nursing, you may come in contact with patients that are non-native English speakers, so learning a language like Spanish is also helpful. Those who are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and English are considered bilingual and while understanding ASL might not get you hired over another candidate, it will improve your flexibility on the job and demonstrate a capacity for advanced learning.
In recent years, laws have been enacted that guarantee the rights of deaf community members. These include requiring all hospitals to have TTY telephones and numbers so deaf persons can make phone calls, and providing interpreters upon request. Open communication in the health care field is a priority and the rights of deaf patients are protected by hospitals and health care providers that ensure understanding between staff and patients. It is in this realm, that understanding sign language as a nurse can also be very helpful.