Habla Espa?ol Medico?

Life Science Weekly has a piece this morning about what sounds like the world's biggest no-brainer: professors at UT Southwestern teaching "medical Spanish." According to the piece, which is available in full only through a subscription, UT Southwestern's Allied Health Sciences school has the only "required, multisemester, linguist-taught medical Spanish curriculum in a physician assistant studies program in the nation," which, simply put, means that if you want to be a, well, physician assistant and know how to really treat Spanish-language patients, you go to UT Southwestern. Astonishingly, the medical Spanish curriculum is only five years old: It was developed by Cristina Gonz�lez, assistant professor of physician assistant studies, who "teaches it to students working on master's degrees to become physician assistants"--health-care professionals who chart medical histories, give physicals, interpret tests and develop treatment plans under physician supervision. Says Life Science Weekly:

"Gonz�lez has also taught medical Spanish at UT Southwestern Medical School and at UT Dallas, and her curriculum is attracting interest from other area hospitals. In addition, she is writing a medical Spanish textbook for physician assistants or other health-care students.

'Being able to give a physical exam in Spanish can enhance care for Spanish-speaking patients,' Ms. Gonz�lez said. 'Some patients often wait to come to a doctor because of fears of being deported, so it's reassuring to them that people are taking time to treat them in their language.'"

And students are using their newfound skills every week--when they visit the Mexican Consulate here for health screenings. As Gonz�lez asks in the piece, "What good is medical knowledge if you can't communicate with patients?"--Robert Wilonsky