LMSA’s Spanish Workshop

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the second Spanish workshop hosted by the Latino Medical Student Association this semester. I must say, I was impressed with the first workshop last month and I was even more impressed with the one yesterday.

The workshop was very interactive and suited those of different levels of Spanish knowledge. LMSA president David began the workshop by discussing the concept of “ganas” in Latino culture, a word which means “desire” but embodies a greater sense of empowerment, especially during difficult times or situations. Understanding the culture and the people is equally, if not more important, than learning the language for us as future doctors to help and communicate with Latino patients, and LMSA really emphasizes this in their workshops. We then divided into a beginner’s group for those who want to learn the language and an advanced group for those who have learned Spanish in the past and wanted to brush up on their skills. For yesterday’s workshop, LMSA brought in two special guests, Carla and Jesus, to be simulated patients.

Both beginner and advanced workshops are set up to teach the language skills most necessary for a doctor. As I’ve learned Spanish in the past, I decided to go to the advanced group. I paired up with Carla, one of the simulated patient guests, and together we went through the entire patient interview process, from introduction, to past medical history, to social history, to review of systems (pretty much everything we learned in ICM)… all in Spanish! In the past, I’ve always enjoyed using Spanish when I traveled and had no trouble asking for directions or booking hotels, but interviewing patients in Spanish seemed like another art to master. Naturally, I was a little nervous and didn’t know if I could finish the whole interview process all in a language I wasn’t fluent in, even with the nice handout of the interview objectives and interview phrase translations we were given in front of me. However, Carla, being so patient, got me through my fears. She gave me tips on words to use to sound more tactful as a doctor, especially in more sensitive topics, and gave me a run-down on the different standards of proper and improper language use in different Spanish countries. I learned a lot of new medical terms in Spanish, and the best of all, I learned what it was like to interview a patient entirely in Spanish. Meanwhile her husband, Steve, a second semester student and also an LMSA officer, led the beginner’s group.

Afterwards, we had pizza, nachos, and other snacks. Then to finish off both the beginner’s and advanced workshops, David and Jesus, both fluent Spanish-speakers, gave a live doctor-patient demonstration of the interview process in Spanish. After just experiencing an interview with Carla myself, this demonstration gave me an insight of the competency I hope to achieve one day.

All in all, I had a great time coming in with a group of people who shared the same interest as me and walking out with a newly-gained cultural and medical experience. As an aspiring physician who will be working in a community with an ever-changing demographics, I found the workshop to be really helpful in preparing me for my future patients. I highly recommend the LMSA Spanish workshop.

LMSA usually hold the Spanish workshops Tuesdays after blocks. The workshops are free. LMSA membership is $20 for your entire time at AUC and includes a LMSA T-shirt, invitations to special LMSA events, as well as to ensure the wonderful workshops and food will continue in the future. Check out LMSA’s concession stand during Movie Nights held by the AUC Movie Club on Friday and Saturdays at 7pm.

AUC’s chapter of LMSA, a national organization, was founded last year. The current newly-elected executive board is the second set of officers for the organization on campus and they are striving in bringing working knowledge and understanding of Spanish language and Latino culture to the AUC community. A volunteer medical mission to a Central or South American country is on their list of ideas in the works. This organization has a lot of potential, and so far I feel they are doing a fine job.