The Role of Hispanic/Latino Nurses in Texas

NursingSeptember 30, 2022

At Denver College of Nursing, we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) and the value that Hispanic/Latino nurses bring to their work setting, particularly in Texas. In Houston alone, 50% of the population speaks another language at home—with Spanish being the most common—according to the Center for Immigration Studies. As a state, Texas has the second largest number of non-English speakers behind California. 

Imagine, as a patient, landing in the hospital with a medical emergency when you don’t speak English and how difficult it is to communicate with the medical team. Bilingual nurses bring incredible value to their workplace with their ability to care for and communicate with their Spanish-speaking patients. These nurses serve as a link between the patient, their families, and the medical team.

Texas is making great strides in enrolling more Hispanic/Latino students in registered nursing programs. From 2019 to 2021, the proportion increased from 16.6% to 32.8%, according to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies. However, the increase still doesn’t reflect the general Texas population of 40% Hispanic/Latino residents. 

Leaders in nursing understand that having a diverse nursing workforce increases “culturally competent patient care.” That includes more male Hispanic/Latino nurses too. Men make up less than 10% of the national nursing workforce, but studies show that male patients often feel more comfortable with male nurses, and patients prefer healthcare providers who share their race or ethnicity. Plus, the demand for nurses in Texas is projected to balloon by 54% by 2030. 

Besides feeling more comfortable with a nurse who can understand their culture, patients need someone who can bridge any language barrier. For a patient’s ability to heal, clear communication is critical so they understand procedures, consent forms, and what they should do at home to reduce the risk of medical complications. A non-English speaker may face more risks if they don’t understand the home procedures they should follow. 

Not only can bilingual nurses reduce communication gaps between the patient and the doctor, they can also serve as a kind of cultural attaché as needed. A culturally aware nurse can help the medical team provide more culturally sensitive care—or at least an understanding of a patient’s belief system. For the patient, a bilingual nurse can explain medical terminology and care to the patient, as well as relay information from the doctor. Bilingual nurses can mean the difference between a positive outcome and a negative experience.  

Have you been thinking about nursing as a career? The Denver College of Nursing’s Houston campus offers a BSN completion program that can be completed in 21 months. Click here for more information or call us today at (800)-210-9898 and speak to one of our career counselors.