USciences Launches Certificate Specializing in Spanish for Healthcare Professionals

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on October 16, 2019

Toobah Wali PharmD’21 had already taken several years of Spanish language classes before being accepted as a student pharmacist in CVS Health’s Spanish Immersion Summer Internship Program, but during the ten-week experience, she learned the importance of not only having specific Spanish language skills related to healthcare, but also understanding the cultural, behavioral, and socioeconomic aspects that went into counseling her patients about their prescription and over-the-counter medication. 

“As future healthcare providers, we are learning to become our patients’ advocate and without the skills to effectively communicate and understand our patients, we are unable to meet their health needs,” said Wali. 

A new certificate in Spanish for Healthcare Professionals offered to undergraduates at University of the Sciences starting this year focuses on both the linguistic and cultural competencies that health professionals need to better care for Hispanics and Latino populations. 

Martin O. Carrion, PhD, assistant professor of Spanish and humanities, said the creation of the program was inspired by the regional need for more health professionals who can interact with a growing Hispanic population.  

“There is no doubt that there is a growing need for capable professionals to be able to communicate with their patient population without the expensive use of an interpreter,” said Dr. Carrion. “This certificate will build on the basics of Spanish language education with added vocabulary and cultural education specific to the medical professions.”

The certificate is 15 credits, including intermediate Spanish language courses, Spanish conversation and composition, a course on Spanish for healthcare professionals, and a humanities course about medicine and Hispanics. In order to qualify for the certificate, one year of college-level Spanish, or its equivalent, is required. 

Wali said her Spanish courses have strengthened her passion for serving others and improving public health. 

“Growing up as a first-generation American, I witnessed the struggles my parents and family members experienced, so I understand how it feels to be misunderstood when language and cultural barriers exist,” she said. “I witnessed my family members becoming frustrated as they were unable to advocate for themselves, especially with conversations involving their medical care and medications.”

Wali said she believes her language skills will enable her to create individualized and comprehensive therapy plans to improve their quality of life. 

The certificate is open to USciences students for the 2019-20 academic year, and then the courses will be opened up to external audiences interested in the program in the fall of 2020. Interested students should ask their advisor for more information. 

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Humanities, Students, Faculty, Announcement