'Medical Spanish' Course Helps Physician Assistants Examine, Communicate with Hispanic Patients

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Medical Spanish

Fluency in "medical Spanish," acquired through a one-of-a-kind education program at UT Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School, has helped Jill Conway, a physician assistant, uncover medical histories and perform physical exams in Spanish. It is knowledge that has enhanced her relationship with Spanish-speaking patients and improved the medical care they receive.

"Patients feel comfortable in sharing their symptoms, and I can better educate them about their health condition," said Ms. Conway, a 2004 graduate. "It's been very helpful."

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The Allied Health Sciences School has the only required, multisemester, linguist-taught medical Spanish curriculum in a physician assistant studies program in the nation, according to Dr. Eugene Jones, chairman of physician assistant studies.

Such training is increasingly vital, Dr. Jones said, as the Hispanic population is poised to more than triple by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Access to basic health care is often restricted due to language and cultural barriers. And the number of medical personnel who speak Spanish is woefully inadequate, resulting in the use of interpreters, which can hinder the bond between clinicians and patients," he said.

Cristina Gonz

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