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.'"
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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