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Language Barriers in Health Care  

This guide provides accurate and reliable resources for nurses and health care professionals to use when encountering situations with non-English speaking patients and how to expand that communication barrier.
Last Updated: Jan 6, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Liesl Cottrell  &  Lucy Gonzalez

We locate articles, books, offer one-on-one research assistance, process interlibrary loans, and staff the desk during the day. 

(773) 252-5114


Library Location:

First floor of St. Elizabeth Hospital, turn left after the front desk.


Library Hours: 

Monday-Thursday: 7:00am-10:00pm

Friday: 7:00am-5:00pm

Saturday: 10:00am-6:00pm 

Sunday: 10:00am-4:00pm


As ResU students prepare for the health profession and start rotations, you will quickly realize that communication is the key component for becoming a successful nurse. From conducting basic health assessments to diagnosing to just speaking with patients who have limited English proficiency (LEP), having language translation resources at your fingertips is important.


Most health care facilities should have an appropriate number of translators based upon the number of LEP individuals living in the surrounding community, according to the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


This guide will provide websites, apps, and other library resources that you can use to help you manage this obstacle that continues to grow in the health care field.


The two most prominent languages, aside from English, in the Oak Park area are Spanish and Polish. This guide is designed to provide resources based upon the languages you will encounter and the procedures to enact during your rotations.


Language in Health Care Facts

  • Statistics from the United States Census show that nearly one in five legal American residents speaks a language other than English at home, adding up to nearly 60 million people nationwide, and that number continues to rise with each passing year.  
  • Depending on the language involved, medical translation services can run as high as $400 per hour!
  • About 1 in 5 dual-role staff interpreters at large health care organizations had insufficient bilingual skills to serve as interpreters in a medical encounter. Health care organizations that depend on dual-role staff interpreters should consider assessing staff English and second language skills on a regular basis.

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Professional Library
1431 North Claremont Avenue
Chicago, IL60622
(773) 252-5114
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