When we began the Medical Elective Network in 2011 our objective was to offer medical students a clinical elective program where they could also develop general and medical Spanish skills. Since then we have grown both as an organization and also in terms of what we offer.
The program no longer only caters to medical students. We now recieve students and professionals from different areas of healthcare. (In fact, medical students now only make up about 50% of our program participants). What has remained constant is that most participants choose us because of our focus on both learning medical Spanish and its practical use.
Community Health Fairs
A few years ago we were asked by different organizations, such as local authorities and the national police, to provide community health fairs to communities with limited resources. These have continued, and have become an increasingly important and popular part of our programs.
It is this focus on both Learning and using medical Spanish that sets our programs apart
Whichever program participants take, Friday mornings are spent working as a team and seeing 80 to 120 people. As well as the social benefit provided to individuals needing free consultations or medicine, our program participants benefit hugely form this opportunity to apply both their medical Spanish and clinical skills.
During our classroom based course we include lots of clinical consultation role plays. However, nothing is as helpful as actually using your skills in the real world.
Medical Spanish in the community
Regardless of participants’ existing level of Spanish, the health fairs are an excellent and safe environment to develop their Spanish language skills. Each fair is attended by our own doctors and language teachers, who ensure that each patient is correctly attended to. Health care students are always accompanied by a professional during consultations.
The day before each health fair, program participants work with our team of doctors, to organize teams and medicine for the subsequent event.
Community or Hospital
In both a hospital rotation and a community health fair you will be using Spanish. An important difference is that in the hospital you will be using vocabulary relevant to your chosen clinical rotation. On the community health fair the vocabulary used is much broader, reflecting the variety of patients attended to.
Immersion beyond the classroom
Regardless of how and where you choose to develop your medical Spanish skills. It is essential that you have the opportunity to practise these skills as you are learning. We have found no better way than community health fairs.