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This semester marks the installment of an upper-level class that is new to the University curriculum, research medical Spanish 3348.
Dr. Encarna Bermejo, assistant professor in Spanish and instructor of the course, initially had the idea of creating the class two years ago after noticing many students from the nursing and biology department taking Spanish classes.
“I wanted to help them learn Spanish, but also the medical terminology that was required for their major,” Bermejo said.
Research Medical Spanish is open to students of all majors. In order to get into the class, students must be able to effectively communicate in Spanish and are required to have the pre-requite Spanish 2000.
Dr. Miguel Estrada, chair of the department of English and modern languages, and associate professor in Spanish, said research medical Spanish is a practical class that accommodates the needs of the University’s student population.
“We have an excellent nursing program and science department, and live in a city that is famous for having some of the best medical services in the country,” Estrada said. “It makes sense to create classes like research medical Spanish for students interested in the medical field.”
Bermejo said there is a growing need in the medical community for Spanish speaking professionals and started research medical Spanish in the hopes of benefiting students involved in sciences whose dominant language is Spanish.
“A lot of our nursing and biology students are heritage speakers, which means they already know Spanish,” Bermejo said. “However, a lot of the times they do not know the terminology that is needed to work in a medical environment.”
Bermejo said she got the idea for the class from an internship program she set up at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital two years ago. The program, which enables students to practice their Spanish while shadowing doctors, allows students to intern at a local hospital throughout the semester for six hours a week.
She added that she created the class to further benefit the Spanish speaking students.
Estrada said he wants to add more classes that will help students use their Spanish skills to participate in the global community.
He added that his goal is to prepare Spanish speaking students for real challenges they may face in the professional world and help them become more qualified when they enter their particular field in the future.
“We are focusing on adding classes such as business Spanish and translation classes, which will cover terminology in legal and governmental professions,” Estrada said. “Students will be able to apply their knowledge learned in these classes in professional settings and will have a better chance of attaining a good job.”
Bermejo said that although research medical Spanish is challenging, it is an active class and involves activities that require students to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to real life scenarios.
“Students will go out and interview doctors about current medical issues, diseases and the different interactions they have with their patients,” Bermejo said. “They will also conduct research on these diseases and present their information entirely in Spanish for their final project.”
Senior Rosemary Perez, a psychology major with a Spanish minor, is one of 12 students enrolled in research medical Spanish this semester.
Perez said she enjoys the class because it is preparing her for after graduation when she enters the health field.
“Spanish is a language that is frequently being used in the medical field,” Perez said. “Learning the right medical terminology in Spanish will give students an advantage in this competitive field.”
Perez, who plans on becoming a mental health nurse after graduation, said she feels the class will help her become an effective communicator when she is in a hospital setting.
She added that she believes having the ability to translate for others will give her an advantage when finding a job.
Research Medical Spanish is currently being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. until 1:45 p.m. It is the first new installment of profession-terminology classes that the Spanish department hopes to create in the future.
Bermejo and Estrada said they are both excited about the new class and the opportunities it will bring to Spanish-speaking students in the future.