Diversity & Inclusion

Medical Spanish Program

Medical Spanish

One of SKMC’s missions is to eliminate the health disparities commonly seen in underserved populations.

Established in 2015, SKMC students with Spanish language skills at the advanced/proficient/conversational to the fluent level can participate in a four-year longitudinal experience designed to develop physicians who can provide care to Spanish-speaking patients and their families. The program is an important component of a comprehensive and targeted approach to eliminating health and education disparities.

In the first year, students who demonstrate advanced Spanish fluency are selected for the course. Over the course of five months, they learn medical Spanish terminology through the Canopy Medical Spanish online program, attend bi-weekly practice sessions, attend shadowing experiences at Puentes de Salud and the Jefferson Latina Women’s Health Clinic, and participate in medical simulation. Those who successfully complete the course receive credits for their first-year Humanities in Medicine course.

During the summer after their first year, selected students have the opportunity to participate in a four-week medical immersion program at CES University in Medellin, Colombia. Students shadow a variety of specialties in both the inpatient and outpatient setting and have the chance to witness medical care in Spanish.

During their second and third years, to further develop their medical Spanish skills, students continue their shadowing experiences at Puentes de Salud and the Jefferson Latina Women’s Health clinic. In their fourth year, students have the opportunity to return to CES University in Medellin, Colombia and participate in a clinical elective in the specialty of their choice. Additionally, students can do a one-month independent study elective in Advanced Medical Spanish where they can design a program tailored to best improve on their current level of proficiency.

Medical Spanish Program Overview

Students participate in this program throughout each phase of their medical education.

In the first year, students build their foundation for proficiency in Medical Spanish in the following stages.

  1. Education: Using the online Canopy Medical Spanish Program, students learn terminology and cultural competency. The program is a 40-hour, three-tiered program administered over 20 weeks aimed at providing the knowledge to perform a medical history and physical examination in Spanish
  2. Clinical Exposure: Students practice what they have learned by shadowing physicians as they provide medical care to Spanish-speaking patients. The two main sites:
  3. Simulation
    • Weekly practice sessions with the student coordinators and fellow classmates.
    • Cafecitos: on a monthly basis, informal sessions to practice Spanish (with some galletas and Cafecito from the comfort of home). Participants are provided with a list of conversational topics to discuss in small breakout rooms done with students from area medical schools (such as Temple, Drexel, Penn State and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine) that have formal Medical Spanish programs).
    • Clinical case scenarios at the Rector Simulation Center – in 2020, students managed a case of congestive heart failure and pneumonia using high-fidelity simulators with second year students running the cases.
  4. Immersion: Four-week inpatient and outpatient experience at the Universidad CES, Medellin, Colombia. he first year, students build their foundation for proficiency in Medical Spanish in the following stages.

1. Clinical Exposure - ongoing shadowing at:

With three-plus years of medical knowledge and clinical skills, students advance and refine their skills through:

  1. Immersion: Four-week clinical clerkship in a specialty of choice the Universidad CES, Medellin, Colombia.
  2. Clinical Exposure - ongoing shadowing at:
  3. Advanced Medical Spanish Elective: a four-week individualized elective designed to enhance the student’s skills. The course involves the Canopy Medical Spanish course, conversational Medical Spanish sessions, cultural competency modules and advanced Spanish history and physical examination skills