Introductory Medical Spanish Elective: Creating and Evaluating a Case-Based Course Compatible with an 18-Month Pre-Clinical Medical Curriculum

Taylor A. Vega, Alec G. Contag, Erin Urbanowicz, Anthony Sanchez, Juan Carlos Martinez, Amy Garcia, Alex Ortega-Loayza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Limited English proficiency patients experience high rates of medical errors and receive lower quality of care. To better prepare the healthcare workforce, Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) members at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) developed an Introductory Medical Spanish course to complement an 18-month pre-clinical curriculum. Methods: This 10-week elective course consisted of 2 h of weekly instruction, two Cafecito cultural sessions, and one clinical standardized assessment (CSA). The authors used Bloom’s taxonomy as a theoretical framework to design course components. Pre- and post-course surveys captured comfort scores with performing a history and physical (H&P) and building rapport in Spanish. Change in comfort was analyzed via paired T-test in STATA. The authors performed a content analysis of CSA feedback and a thematic analysis of Cafecito reflections. Results: Fifteen preclinical medical students in cohort 1 and sixteen in cohort 2 completed the 10-week course. Comfort scores significantly (p < 0.05) increased by 2.87 and 1 point(s) for cohorts 1 and 2, respectively. There were differences between cohorts 1 and 2, including self-reported language fluency (93% vs 47% “beginner” level) and value of the cultural sessions (73% vs 50%), respectively. Qualitative content analysis of CSA feedback and thematic analysis of Cafecito reflections revealed students successfully applied learned material to a new case and developed a newfound appreciation for Latinx public health issues. Conclusions: This course effectively increased students’ comfort using medical Spanish which successfully translated into simulated patient environments. It also provided a space to discuss nuances of health and Latinx cultures with peers. Ultimately, this course’s feasible, effective structure can serve as a model to complement condensed pre-clinical undergraduate medical education (UME) curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Course development
  • Medical Spanish
  • Medical student
  • Undergraduate medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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