Medical Spanish Course

Medical Spanish Non-Credit Elective

Through the use of interactive small group classes, community service opportunities, and cultural competency lectures, the Medical Spanish Non-Credit Elective is designed to give medical students an opportunity to learn and practice many of the expressions, common questions and answers, and terminology used when interacting with Spanish speaking patients. The overall goal is to improve medical students’ conversation for use in medical interviewing and patient communication.

Throughout the academic year, the course offers 10 small group sessions (1.5 hours/session), lectures on the proper use of a medical interpreter and Latino culture, and community service experiences.

Eligible participants

This course is only open to medical students.


Enrollment is done electronically. Email notices will be sent to the class listserves about the informational session and course registration process.

Classroom Sessions

The Medical Spanish classes are divided into 4 levels of fluency: Beginner, Intermediate- Low & High, and Advanced. The Beginner and Intermediate levels consist of small group didactic and interactive role-playing classes to maximize students’ potential to learn key concepts. The Advance level curriculum is primarily interactive role-playing with concepts commonly used in a clinical setting. Each level is taught by a Medical Spanish instructor and has a maximum class size of 25 students.


At the end of the course, participants will be able to

  1. Translate basic anatomy from English to Spanish, and vise versa.
  2. Initiate conversation with Spanish-speaking patients.
  3. Apply medical Spanish terminology to obtain a basic history and facilitate the performance of a physical examination of patients.
  4. Advocate the use of a qualified interpreter when the encounter goes beyond the student’s level of understanding.
  5. Discuss cultural practices and health beliefs unique to the Hispanic community.
  6. Discuss the Office for Civil Rights and other legal guidelines for physicians caring for the Limited English Proficient Patient.

Credit Requirements

Students who successfully fulfill the requirements will receive a notation of completion on their academic transcript.

To receive credit for the course, participants must fulfill the following by May 31

  1. Complete 10 out of 12 classroom/lecture sessions.
  2. Participate in 2 community service events that serve patients whose primary language is Spanish. Due to the pandemic, we waived the community service requirement. We hope to resume next year.

Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Sonia Laumbach

Program Coordinator:
Cynthia Ferrer-Cespedes