As a professional invested in the well-being of your patients, being in a situation where you cannot understand what they are expressing can be uncomfortable, even somewhat stressful. The probability of finding yourself in this scenario has increased over the past years with the growth in the Spanish speaking population. In fact, it has been estimated that in the next 50 years, Spanish will be spoken by as many U.S. inhabitants as the English language. Spanish is particularly present if you are located in a high concentration urban area with considerable Latino immigration, such as: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas in Texas; Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego in California; Chicago, Illinois & Miami, Florida, as well as the Tri-state area: New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
While many medical centers have affiliations with translation resources, for situations where time is of the essence and/or the challenge is immediate, having some Spanish knowledge will increase the sense of accuracy within the provider-patient encounter.
Understanding that effective, professional and cross-cultural communication are at the top of the list of most medical professionals, here are a few effective, short-term strategies that you can use to learn proper medical Spanish.
- An easy, quick first step is to create a vocabulary list with those words and phrases you find essential for solid communication. Self-directed learning can also be complemented with medical Spanish text books, for example: Spanish for Health Care Professionals by William C. Harvey, Medical Spanish 101 by Gene Coates or Medical Spanish Made Incredibly Quick.
- On-line resources are useful learning tools; on-line language learning programs are ideal when they feature one-on-one, face-to-face instruction in live format conferences, as this permits immediate instructor feedback and allows the students to ask clarifying questions.
- A full time, short 1, 2 or 3 week Spanish immersion option in a Spanish speaking country is a terrific way for doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and even front desk medical support staff to fast-track Spanish language learning. Courses are designed to not only teach the ‘nuts & bolts’ of the language but also delve into cultural subtleties and commonalities.
The CPI Spanish immersion institute based in Costa Rica offers options b. & c. The CPI Online Spanish for Professionals program can be taken from the comfort of your home and offers flexibility with directed, personalized instruction based both on your skill set and your line of work. Why not hybrid your learning experience, starting off with the CPI Online program to get the ball rolling and then travel to Costa Rica for an educational tropical adventure? Afternoons and week-ends are free to explore the local natural wonders, adventure tours and cultural excursions. Alternatively, if you want to start off with immersion, 2 or 3 weeks for the on-site, in-country, immersion option, is perfect, too! In just a few weeks you will gain increased fluidity in using your spoken Spanish and confidence in the area of comprehension. We understand your time is limited and we want to ensure both your investment and time are maximized.
Knowing medical Spanish will increase your employability, whether you are just initiating in the health care field or your expertise is administrative, or you are a seasoned professional – in all these scenarios -- won’t it be fun to return from your tropical adventure with the capacity to do the job you love but en espanol!