New Minor In Medical Spanish | University of Portland

New Minor In Medical Spanish

A student in scrubs and wearing a face mask working from a nurse's cart.

The Department of International Languages and Cultures is meeting our students’ rising interest in pre-health and our nation’s need for multilingual health care workers. The new minor in Medical Spanish is designed for students in the departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Social Work and the School of Nursing and Health Innovations, to prepare them to safely treat Spanish-speaking patients without the help of an interpreter. In addition to strengthening students’ Spanish-language proficiency and providing them with specialized medical vocabulary, the program also develops intercultural competency on health and social issues of the Latinx population. Dr. Lora Looney, co-director of the program, says, “I am most jazzed about developing a new Spanish course for the minor, Biopolitics of Hispanic Art, Cinema, and Fiction, to be offered Fall 2024.” 


The Medical Spanish minor comprises 12 credit hours, including SPN 301 and 302, or, for heritage speakers of Spanish, SPN 308.  Additional courses include SPN 380 Medical and Public Health Spanish and a capstone course SPN 480: Introduction to Medical Interpretation. Students in SPN 480 will take the Qualified Bilingual Staff Assessment exam, to assess their proficiency in medical Spanish. Participants in the minor also have the option to take a course over the summer that will prepare them for the National Medical Interpretation Exam, which certifies their ability to work as a medical interpreter.  


There are 34.5 million residents of the United States who speak Spanish at home, and approximately 47% of them have limited English-language proficiency, which creates barriers in accessing and receiving high-quality medical care. Professor Katya Hall, co-director of the program, says, “If you want to make a difference in the lives of the patients who only speak Spanish by connecting with them in their language, give the Medical Spanish Minor (MSM) at UP a try. The MSM is a great option for anyone who will be working in community health or with the underserved Spanish-speaking-only patient population in the United States.”  


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