A longitudinal medical Spanish program at one US medical school

J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Jul;23(7):1033-7. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0598-9.


Introduction: Policymakers have recommended recruiting or training (or both) more US physicians who can provide care in Spanish. Few longitudinal medical Spanish programs have been described and evaluated.

Objective: This study aims to describe development and evaluation of the preclinical phase of a 4-y program designed to graduate physicians who can provide language-concordant care in Spanish.

Setting: Study was done in one public medical school in southeastern USA.

Program description: The program targeted intermediate/advanced Spanish speakers. Standardized fluency assessments were used to determine eligibility and evaluate participants' progress. Curriculum included didactic coursework, simulated patients, socio-cultural seminars, clinical skills rotations at sites serving Latinos, service-learning, and international immersion.

Program evaluation: For the first two cohorts (n = 45) qualitative evaluation identified program improvement opportunities and found participants believed the program helped them maintain their Spanish skills. Mean interim (2-y) speaking proficiency scores were unchanged from baseline: 9.0 versus 8.7 at baseline on 12-point scale (p = 0.15). Mean interim listening comprehension scores (second cohort only, n = 25) increased from a baseline of 77 to 86% (p = 0.003). Proportions "passing" the listening comprehension test increased from 72 to 92% (p = 0.06).

Discussion: We describe development of a longitudinal Spanish program within a medical school. Participation was associated with improved Spanish listening comprehension and no change in speaking proficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication Barriers
  • Communication*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • United States