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Higher Education Institutions Offer Opportunities For Medical Personnel To Learn Spanish


In an effort to better serve minority populations, higher education institutions in Cache Valley offer opportunities for medical personnel to learn Spanish. Some ways this is happening is through a Spanish club and a Spanish class.

“I want to be able to build trust with the patients I work with one day,” said Marielle Larsen, a pre-med student studying Spanish and chemistry at Utah State University and president of the school’s medical Spanish club.

“Having the experience of being a foreigner in a country,” she said, “you realize how essential it is to have good communication, especially in those important moments like interacting with a medical professional.”

Larsen has not personally needed medical care in a foreign country, but when she was on a study abroad in Spain, one of her friends did. The friend spoke Spanish well, but there were still differences in vocabulary and procedure.

“It gives a level of doubt,” Larsen said. “Are they really treating me the way that they should? Did I express my symptoms in the best way?”

Ariel Rosario teaches a Spanish class for medical personnel at Bridgerland Technical College. Helping his students minimize doubt for patients is one of his goals.

“For somebody that have parents who don’t speak the language,” Rosario said, “if my parents ever come to this country, and for whatever reason they might need help, it would be nice to have somebody that is going the extra mile to learn a different language and help their patient.”

Rosario identifies the fields his students are going into and teaches them Spanish vocabulary and terminology related to these fields to help them better serve patients. Beyond vocabulary, Larsen said culture is also important to understand, such as home remedies.

“That’s important to recognize so that when patients do have maybe some different ideas of how to handle a situation that we don’t discount those ideas, we don’t discount those traditions,” Larsen said.