So, I have been working with low income population of patients for almost as long as I have been a nurse and Nurse Practitioner. I took a temporary leave for 5 years after being exhausted/burnt out of clinic work. (I used to come home everyday crying or so tired my husband would just help me into bed to sleep.)
Now that I am back in a clinic like environment I could not be happier. The diversity of the patient pop. has been helpful. One thing however totally saddens me, literacy. I don't get annoyed with people who can't speak a lick of English after living here for 1,2 3, -12 years. That doesn't bother me. They are able to at least read and write in their own language. What makes me sad is that in the year 2007 people don't know how to read or write. Some of the women I come in contact with do not know how to read at all, in the language that is the primary language from their country of origin.
I had a patient the other day who had to take a crumpled piece of paper out of her pocket and look down at it to slowly write down her name. Oddly enough there were two names on the paper and if she got confused she would write down the wrong one. She barely knew how to draw the letters, let alone know which one was her name to copy. I wanted to cry. This is part of the public health crisis. I think people need to know how to read and write. Granted, many of these women come from a country in Latin America where they don't learn Spanish. They speak a native dialect that is nothing like Spanish and don't have the resources that Spanish speaking only people have. I hope that in the work I do I can figure out a way to give these people the opportunity to learn to read an write so that their children will have a better chance at making it in this country. I can only imagine how hard it is to live here.