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New Spanish Minor for Health Professionals

By Jacqueline Escobar & Jeremy Kramer
Staff Writers

LIU Post has introduced Spanish for Health Professions, a minor choice for students majoring in Nursing and Health Professions.

Lo reconoces? [Recognize him? In Spanish] He is Jorge Rosario, the chairperson of the foreign language department and a professor of Spanish. Rosario emphasizes the value of learning a variety of languages so that students can widen their perspective on different cultures and give quality service in the workforce. He encourages students, especially those pursuing a degree in health care fields to add the Spanish minor because there is a high demand for bilingual healthcare providers. “Students are motivated to learn this language because they want to assist their patients the correct way,” he said.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Marci Swede – Dr. Marci Swede. Associate professor and Chairperson of the Department of Health Science

“Learning Spanish helps the students learn to translate information with health care providers, documents, and educate others in need of medical assistance,” Rosario said.

The minor was implemented two years ago. This semester, the foreign language department is offering Spanish 15 and Spanish 16: Conversation and Spanish Medical Terminology, which will integrate medical terminology in Spanish. These courses are comprehensive classes that allow students to learn how to integrate grammar, conversational skills, and medical terms in Spanish. This helps them learn pragmatic vocabulary that allows them to efficiently communicate with patients and health care providers. The two courses also focus on cultural knowledge of the Hispanic culture.

“It is imperative that health care providers have a better understanding of the Hispanic people; therefore, the course covers subjects such as immigration, religion, nutrition, traditions, and other subjects that distinguishes Hispanics,” Rosario said.

The foreign language department also offers courses in Italian, French, Japanese, and Russian. Rosario believes that the Spanish program is successful and will continue to give benefits to students, especially those in the health professions. This semester, 15 students are enrolled in the class.

“The Hispanic, Chinese and Korean populations are going to keep growing and hospitals are looking for bilingual people,” Rosario said. “If you are a healthcare provider and are able to speak or willing to learn another foreign language, you are going to be hired,” he continued.

Dr. Marci Swede, associate professor and chairperson of the department of health sciences, prepares students for careers in healthcare, medicine and the hardcore sciences.

She is focused on making sure students not only learn basic science, but also about direct human health. Swede’s department offers a variety of minors, including minors in nutrition, social work and healthcare administration.

“Healthcare is done in interprofessional teams. Although students learn about different professions, they must understand the idea that to be a really good and effective health care provider, you have to be able to build relationships, have empathy and to be able to connect with people, not only your patients but with the people you work with and the community you serve. That goes above and beyond just knowing your biology, your chemistry, and your physics,” she said.

Swede and Rosario have worked together on the minor as an opportunity for students to have this extra skill and to be able to connect with patients on a higher level.

“Health care professionals who have Spanish speaking patients will be able to really build a relationship,” Swede said.

“Medical terminology in Spanish, additional coursework and Spanish culture are important for students to better understand the community in which [their] patients potentially come from,” Swede said. “[They] gain some insight on their cultural differences that students may come across,” Swede said.

Swede and Rosario value the interdisciplinary work between their departments. “It is good that I can go to one department and see how it benefits both; Dr. Rosario does an outstanding job giving students an opportunity to build this extra skill,” Swede said.

Katerin Martinez is a first year student who plans on graduating with a B.S in Nursing and minor in Spanish. Martinez is from Lima, Peru. She is currently working as a gastroenterologist at Meadowbrook Endoscopy Center, an outpatient center located in Westbury. Martinez says that the Spanish minor has already made a signi cant difference in her work place.

“As a medical assistant, patients tend to feel more comfortable when they can freely converse in their native language,” Martinez said.

Martinez believes that she can explain information to patients and families efficiently and she is developing a trust between them. “I am also able to advocate for my Spanish speaking patients by knowing their needs,” she said.

“The Spanish language is becoming so prevalent in the United States; I believe knowing Spanish will be an essential commodity in the medical field,” she said.

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