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What you will learn in this lesson:

  • how to utilize interpreter services in a medical setting

  • cultural courtesies and formalities in Spanish related to greetings, foods, time, space, privacy issues, family, and circular v. linear thought processes

  • the near nonexistent concept of preventive medicine v. a doctor/dental visit only when feeling extremely ill or when toothache or throbbing is intolerable

  • the concept of walk-in clinic v. doctor appointments

  • prescriptions v. OTC meds v. consulting at the farmacia in Latin America (and subsequently purchasing medication without a prescription or without a previous doctor visit)

  • to distinguish some “culture-bound syndromes”

  • vocabulary related to medications

  • vocabulary related to illnesses and symptoms

  • medically related “layman” and slang terms

The first goal of this lesson is to be introduced to and understand some Latino cultural values and belief systems, as well as to be aware of the differences between “Anglo” and Latino behavioral patterns and subsequently to be able to apply this knowledge successfully during a Latino patient interview and exam.

The second goal is to use and recognize medically related terminology in order to express yourself, understand, and make yourself understood by all your Latino Spanish-speaking patients, no matter what their background may be.

This lesson is divided into two principal parts. The first is “Cultural competency/Cross-cultural communication” and discusses interpreter techniques, as well as many cultural factors including some religious beliefs and culture-bound syndromes to provide insight into your Latino patients’ varied belief systems and needs. It is hoped that this, in turn, will aid in creating a better rapport between the healthcare professional and patients.

The second part consists of vocabulary related to herbal remedies and medicines, which are listed in alphabetical order. Following this is a list of illnesses and symptoms, grouped by body systems and ordered alphabetically.


The Interpreter

There are three basic forms of interpreting: simultaneous, consecutive, and paraphrasing. Let’s examine the strengths and weaknesses of each method.

Simultaneous interpretation. This method consists of speaking concurrently in one language while listening in the other. The interpreter tracks approximately one or two words behind the speaker and renders the most precise translation possible.

Simultaneous translation is helpful when conserving time is a predominant factor. It does not necessarily provide for establishing close physician-patient contact or personal communication, however. The best use of this technique is for interpreting conferences, where a large number of persons can listen to the translation using headsets. In a medical setting, some find this method too distracting because it is difficult to listen to two people speaking simultaneously in different languages.

Consecutive interpretation. This technique consists of interpreting several phrases as precisely as possible, after the speaker has paused. This method, depending upon the interpreter’s ...

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