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Medical Spanish

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An important aspect of being able to administer quality health care pertains to being able to communicate effectively with the people you treat. As a doctor, nurse, or emergency medical technician, you must be able to assess patient symptoms and to communicate treatment options in a clear and thorough manner. For a growing number of health care practitioners, this means learning to converse with patients in languages other than their own.

In an increasingly diverse society, doctors are often confronted with patients whose countries of origin reside outside of the United States. Indeed, many U.S. cities report immigrant populations that exceed the number of European American residents. This trend is expected to continue in the years to come, with a growing number of non-English speaking Americans.

To be sure, one of the fastest growing demographics is the Latino population. Newsweek magazine and other major periodicals have given ample coverage to this trend recently. Indeed, some statistics suggest that if the Latino population continues to grow at this rate, it will constitute the majority demographic in several major cities within the decade.

Changing Demographics, Changing Patient Needs

Clearly, these changing cultural demographics have implications for many sectors of society, including politics, industry, and education. However, one of the most profoundly affected areas is likely to be that of medicine. With a growing number of Latinos entering the health care system, it is becoming increasingly important for doctors and nurses to be proficient in Spanish.

This is especially true in crisis situations, where health care professionals must be able to obtain information in a timely, accurate manner. Obtaining an accurate personal history and symptom inventory is integral to all effective medical care. However, in emergency situations, a language barrier can really compromise these basic measures.

Even in non-crisis situations, it is important for health care providers to be able to communicate effectively with patients who do not speak English. Even small phrases can go a long way toward putting people at ease and orienting them to the medical process. In an overwhelming labyrinth of health care services, this tiny gesture can go a long way toward helping patients get the care they need.

A New Kind of Health Care Tool

With this in mind, many health care providers are encouraged to learn basic medical Spanish. It is one of the easier languages to acquire, and it is becoming an increasingly essential tool in medical center settings. With just a small commitment of time, it is possible for anyone to learn sufficient Spanish to obtain a patient history and symptom inventory.

Although language courses and institutes abound, your best bet is to look for resources that cater specifically to medical personnel. This will ensure that you get the tools you need to learn Spanish quickly. Moreover, it will ensure an emphasis on the medical terms and phrases that are likely to be of greatest use to you.

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