As students at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine learn to gain the trust of their patients and look for ways to better serve underserved people, many are honing their Spanish skills to meet the needs of the population. growing Hispanic state.
âThe number of Spanish speaking patients here – it’s a lot. Knowing all the medicine (terminology) is already very difficult, so adding a communication barrier makes things even more difficult,â said Jonathan Mendez, Spanish medical interpreter with ECU Physicians , an ECU undergraduate student and aspiring physician. “So if you can break that down, or at least help overcome that barrier, you can provide a much better service.”
Students at Brody School of Medicine recently revived an Extracurricular Medical Spanish Interest Group designed to help current and future healthcare providers bridge the language gap and improve communication with Hispanic patients by speaking to them in their mother tongue. The group meets monthly at the Health Sciences Student Center to practice speaking Spanish, with a particular emphasis on medical terminology.
Emily Parks is a second year medical student in Raleigh and chair of the Spanish Medical Interest Group at the Brody School of Medicine. Parks started learning Spanish in high school, and was able to gain more experience with the language through volunteer opportunities as an undergraduate student, but the rigors of medical school took it to heart. prevented from finding the time to maintain these activities. After speaking with some of her classmates Brody, she realized that there were other students with a similar working knowledge of the language who wanted to improve their Spanish skills and use them in their medical practices.
âWhen I spoke to my classmates and realized this was a need that I wanted to pursue, I realized that these were advanced Spanish speakers, both native and non-native (who were interested),â said Parks. “I think we’re comfortable having a conversation in Spanish and can communicate well, but when it comes to medical terminology and technical terms, or even just trying to rephrase something to helping a patient understand is where we need practice to be better providers in the future. “
Although the group was initially aimed at more advanced Spanish speakers, Parks and the other students leading the effort have found that there is interest among novice speakers as well. While there are medical Spanish courses offered to healthcare students at ECU, the group offers another opportunity to practice these skills.
The group’s academic advisor and associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the Brody School of Medicine, Dr. Irma Corral, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine, shared her enthusiasm for the attention of students to that question.
âThis is a great example of the hearts of our Brody students in that they really care about providing good clinical care to our local community,â said Corral. “When you think of someone who has a language barrier, this is a really tough place to live when you have a medical emergency or a significant chronic care issue that needs attention.”
Corral understands this need firsthand and has emphasized that while offering native English speaking healthcare providers the opportunity to learn Spanish is an important step, it is not enough to meet the needs of the Spanish speaking population. This is why she said it was important for members of the Hispanic and Latino community to understand that they have the right to have a certified medical interpreter with them and that the service is free at the Brody School of Medicine and to ECU Physicians.
âOne of my earliest memories in healthcare was serving as an interpreter for my family, and at the time it was still a licensed practice,â Corral said. “It still happens from time to time in emergency situations, but we really move away from it as a health field because we recognize that it is not enough. It is important that we have medical interpreters. trained and certified in these contexts.
âI was asked to tell my mother that she had cancer when I was a child, and it was an event that really struck me.â¦ She didn’t end up having cancer, but it was probably information that was not appropriate for me to have at the time, and it really stuck with me in terms of the vulnerability of populations when they do not speak the mother tongue of the country where they live . This is actually the event that prompted me to consider becoming a medical teacher and it is the beginning of my story. “
Corral came to eastern North Carolina because she saw a need for Spanish-speaking clinical psychologists in the area.
“I am one of a handful and until a few years ago I was the only one,” she said. “It has been a pleasure to be here to be able to serve the Latino community, especially in mental health care, when what you have to say is very sensitive, you want to be able to do it in your native language, if at all. everything possible. “
This press release was produced by East Carolina University. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.