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Healthcare Bridging the Cultural & Language Barrier

Professional ethnic and demographic nursing associations within our region celebrate diversity while helping bridge language and cultural barriers for patients. How do these groups work to foster the best of their cultures, help their communities, and bridge cultural and language barriers to health care for minority and immigrant populations? Business Life contacted several for their perspective:

Rosine Der-Tavitian, RN, MSN, MPH
Clinical Placement Coordinator, Dept. of Nursing, CSUN
President, Armenian American Nurses Association

Rosine Der-Tavitian, RN, MSN, MPH is the current president of the Armenian American Nurses Association (AANA). She has worked at trauma hospitals, city colleges and universities for more than 25 years, and is a board certified Clinical Nurse Specialist. She leads 97 active members of the ANAA in the Western region.

“AANA is a professional organization of Armenian nurses from Los Angeles who are dedicated to serving the Armenian community, both in Armenia and the Diaspora.  We conduct monthly meetings with educational dinner lectures. The lectures provide approved Continuing Education units,” says Der-Tavitian. “AANA has been very active in the Armenian community by bridging language barriers. We provide healthcare community education locally and globally. This is done in collaboration with the Armenian American Medical Society, Local Armenian Cultural organizations, the Glendale Unified School District, and the LA County Public Health Department, to name a few. Every year in November we do health screenings at the Glendale Health Festival.

“Currently, our biggest challenge is preparing for the first international nursing conference to be held in Hollywood July 3, 2013. This requires added commitment from our members, most of whom work full time and take care of their families. We know we will overcome the challenge because we believe that education is the door to success for a healthy society.”

For more information, visit AANA at www.
Joyce Spalding, MSN, RN, CDE
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
President Council of Black Nurses,
Los Angeles, Inc.

The Council of Black Nurses, Los Angeles, Inc. (CBN, LA) was the first chartered Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). CBN, LA’s mission and goals are aligned with NBNA’s: to provide a forum for collective action by black nurses to investigate, define and advocate for the health care needs of African Americans; and to implement strategies that ensure access to health care, equal to, or above health care standards of the larger society.

CBN, LA is celebrating 41 years as an organization, and currently represents more than 70 LVNs, RNs and nursing students in the Los Angeles area. Joyce Spalding, MSN, RN, CDE is the 15th president of CBN, LA and works at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as the Outpatient Diabetes Educator. Spalding, on the activities and goals of the local chapter: “CBN, LA currently serves its members by providing continuing education units, providing a forum for networking, scholarships and mentoring. Members of CBN, LA reach out to our community by providing health care screenings, giving lectures on health topics, partnering with other organizations and attending NBNA day on Capitol Hill to speak to representatives about the health disparities in our community. Our main challenges include recruitment of nurses and educating the community we serve on the Affordable Care Act.”

For more information, visit CBN, LA online at

Diane Sanchez, RN, PHN, MSN/MPH, CNS
Assistant Nursing Director
President, National Association of Hispanic Nurses,
Los Angeles Chapter

Reaching out to the Hispanic community in Southern California, the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN LA) has more than 200 members.

The active chapter produces newsletters, maintains a website, and sends email blasts to keep members up to date on local activities, events and job opportunities. The chapter also provides networking opportunities and a mentorship program for generic nursing students and RNs returning to school for advanced degrees.

“Latino communities have many barriers which inhibit access to medical care,” says Sanchez. “Knowing the language, culture and belief system assists our members in closing those barriers by being an advocate at the bedside, in the community, and in the legislative arena. Many of our members work in underserved areas of Los Angeles where the majority of our Hispanics live.

“In California, there are 7.1 million uninsured people, with Hispanics having the highest rate of uninsured – at 30.1 percent. Hispanic nurses comprise only four percent of all registered nurses in California. With the Affordable Care Act looming, a more diverse workforce is needed in relation to the Hispanic population. We need to ensure that hospitals, clinics, and public health programs reflect the faces of their patients, customers and stakeholders.”

For more information, visit NAHN LA at

Mindy C. Ofiana, MSN, RN
Assistant Administrator for Operations,
Kaiser Permanente LA Medical Center
President, Philippine Nurses Association 
Southern California, Inc.

It is the 50th anniversary of the Philippine Nurses Association of Southern California, Inc. (PNASC, Inc.) and Mindy Ofiana, current President, reflected: “History can be defined as a study of events from the past leading up to the present time. And the study of history focuses on not just chronological events but also the impact and influence those events continued to have throughout time. PNASC, Inc. took this journey of history from its humble beginnings in 1961 to what it has now become. We are 50 years of age, more than 500 members strong, and growing. PNASC, Inc. is one of the 43 Chapters of our mother organization, Philippine Nurses Association of America, with approximately 5000 members.

“We facilitate the creation of a community of Filipino-American nurses who work together to promote and protect the profession by upholding the positive image and welfare of our constituents, promoting professional excellence, and contributing to positive outcomes for healthcare and society at the local, national and global level. Our members benefit from educational programs at discounted rates, networking opportunities with other professional and community organizations, linkages for advancement and diversification in nursing practice, education and research, awards and scholarship grants to qualified candidates, and social media access. PNASC, Inc. does share variety of challenges that impact our dynamics and performance. In many ways, the age old question, ‘What's in it for me?’, continues to be our stumbling block. We need to challenge members’ motivation and commitment, distinguish ourselves from other professional organizations, and balance members' multiple priorities.”

For more information, visit PNASC, Inc. online at