A nursing program at Bismarck State College is running simulations in Spanish to increase cultural competency of nursing students.

Language barriers are often challenging in health care, particularly for nurses who don't speak a patient's language. The Dakota Nursing Program at BSC collaborated with a Spanish professor and his class to run acute care scenarios in Spanish, with the help of a student-translator.

“They’re seeing more and more of this in practice, where they’re walking into a room and the patient doesn’t speak English," said Annie Paulson, associate professor of nursing with the nursing program.

Paulson and other nursing faculty members at BSC weren't sure how they could implement Spanish into their mannequin-based simulations, which they currently conduct with students every week. So they enlisted the help of Ryan Pitcher and his dual-language learners.

“It’s something that serves both our needs," said Pitcher, who uses the simulations as part of his class final.

On Tuesday, 21 students in the BSC program to become registered nurses did the simulations with Pitcher's Spanish students. Two nursing students were paired with two Spanish students — one as a patient and another as a translator.

Pitcher and nursing faculty members stood on the other side of a two-way mirror and watched. They used iPads to listen and communicate with the students in the other room.

"Hello, my name is Dara and this is Erin," nursing student Dara Friedrich told the patient, introducing her fellow nursing student, Erin Wetzel.

Allison Gion, a sophomore at BSC, translated the sentence into Spanish for the patient, Haley Phelps, who is also a sophomore at the college.

The simulation continued, and Friedrich asked her patient questions about the symptoms she'd been having and how long she'd been having them.

"What caused this?" Friedrich asked.

After translating, she learned that the patient is allergic to cats and had not taken her allergy medicine.

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