Concentration in Medical Spanish boosts bilingual skills, employability

July 21, 2015

Mesa, Arizona ~ There is an urgent need for professionals who can effectively communicate in Spanish and address the health, safety, legal and social needs of a widening Hispanic population in the United States.

Currently, there exists a shortage of interpreters and other workers who can speak and understand Spanish in nearly every field, and the demand for these skills is expected to rise as the Latino population increases from 17.4 percent to 28.6 percent of the U.S. population by 2060, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.

The new concentration in Medical Spanish at Benedictine University at Mesa is designed to confront this challenge. By providing students a foundation in Spanish with an emphasis on medical terminology, vocabulary and cultural proficiency, students will be able to successfully address the needs of Latinos in various health care settings and emergency situations.

The language barrier is one of the main reasons Hispanic adults in the United States have difficulty accessing health care services.

In 2008, more than one-fourth of Hispanic adults in the United States lacked a regular health care provider, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The same proportion of the population also reported having no health insurance in 2014, one year after open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act began.

More U.S. employers are looking for professionals who can offer more than a degree with training in a particular career field. By adding the concentration in Medical Spanish to the new Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, Benedictine prepares students to satisfy a growing trend among employers to hire candidates with a strong bilingual background.

The concentration includes 36 semester credit hours of Spanish and allows students opportunities to hone language skills by participating in an internships or service learning experience in a medical setting in the United States or in another Spanish-speaking country. Students who complete the concentration will also be prepared to take the Certified Medical Interpreter exam.

The concentration also helps students become familiar with the cultures of various Spanish-speaking countries and Latino communities in the United States, and the ways in which the diverse characteristics of these cultures are relevant to the work of health care professionals and emergency responders.

The program covers such topics as cultural and racial diversity in the Spanish-speaking world; the challenges faced by Latinos in the United States; the traditional Hispanic diet; traditional medicine and remedies in the Hispanic world; health care systems in some major Spanish-speaking countries: cultural and religious sensitivities that can affect the quality of health care Latinos receive in the United States; and the impact on health care of the socioeconomic challenges faced by the U.S. Hispanic population.

For more information about the concentration in Medical Spanish at Benedictine University at Mesa, please visit ben.edu/mesa, contact mesa@ben.edu or (602) 888-5533. The University is accepting applications for fall 2015 enrollment.

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Benedictine University at Mesa is a branch campus of Benedictine University, an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the fourth consecutive year in 2014.

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