medical school programs

8 Medical School Programs That Emphasize Spanish

August 10, 2023 - Emily Newton

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Being able to speak Spanish lets physicians see more patients, put them at ease and understand exactly what’s bothering them. It’s a crucial ability to have — especially in the U.S., where 44% of Hispanic Americans cite language or cultural differences as a major reason for worse health outcomes. Future doctors can master medical Spanish as they attend one of these eight medical school programs in the U.S.

1. University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson

Students attending U of A’s College of Medicine can apply for the Bilingual Medical Spanish Distinction Track. The program is available to first-year medical students starting in the fall semester, and it aims to help students graduate as bilingual Spanish-English health care providers. Becoming proficient in Spanish may give students an advantage when applying to residency programs in predominantly Spanish-speaking areas. 

2. Miller School of Medicine – University of Miami

The Miller School of Medicine’s Medical Spanish Program helps health care workers improve their medical Spanish speaking skills. The program gives participants a chance to develop better language skills for working with Spanish-speaking patients. 

Courses in the program include intensive vocabulary practice with a focus on specialized medical terminology. They also include Spanish interviews and topics like case history, patient interviews, physical exams, patient intake and diagnosis. These topics allow students to learn necessary vocabulary and grammar through realistic scenarios. 

The program has beginner and intermediate levels. Students take a language assessment to determine which level to take. 

3. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

In this university’s pre-clerkship curriculum, learning Spanish is a requirement. Spanish classes are fully integrated into students’ learning experience. 

When students first arrive at the school, they take a Spanish language assessment and get sorted into classes appropriate to their knowledge level. First-year students get to campus a month before biomedical science classes start to enroll in a Spanish immersion program. During the pre-clerkship years, students take weekly medical Spanish classes that complement the current topics they’re learning. 

4. University of California, Irvine

UC Irvine’s Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC) trains future doctors — most of whom come from an economically disadvantaged background — to meet the needs of underserved Latino communities. It awards students $50,000 during their MS-5 year to help cover tuition and other costs. The school admits around 12 Spanish-speaking students into its program annually. 

The PRIME-LC curriculum includes coursework from the School of Medicine and School of Social Sciences, completion of a master’s degree and an international clinical rotation. The program can train students who go on to practice a variety of medical specialties. It emphasizes health care delivery, research and policy for California’s Latino patients. 

5. Indiana University School of Medicine

Students can sign up for the Care of Hispanic/Latino Patients Scholarly Concentration to improve their Spanish fluency. The program also allows students to speak Spanish in a clinical setting, understand culturally appropriate medical care and learn more about caring for Hispanic and Latino patients. 

Acceptance to the program requires intermediate-level Spanish proficiency. To determine if students meet the requirement, students must pass an application interview and a 300-level college Spanish course. 

6. University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus

The University of Puerto Rico’s Medical Sciences Campus is one of the top bilingual medical school programs in the world, and one of the university’s acceptance requirements is that applicants must be fluent in both English and Spanish. Earning a medical degree in two languages helps students master medical terminology in both. 

Because Puerto Rico is part of the United States, degrees from this university transfer to the mainland without issue. That means students from the mainland can have an experience similar to studying abroad without the legal hassles. Most students are residents of Puerto Rico, but anyone can apply.

One of the biggest benefits of learning Spanish at the University of Puerto Rico is that it’s the dominant language on the island. Students will speak Carribean Spanish in day-to-day interactions, truly mastering the nuances of the language. 

7. Albert Einstein College of Medicine

This New York City-based college offers an M.D. program, two Master of Science degrees and a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences and clinical investigation. The school’s Medical Spanish program gives students the chance to take medical Spanish classes starting in the spring of the first year and practice them throughout the second year. Students take a self-assessment and instructor-led oral assessment to place them into the correct level. 

All courses are taught primarily in Spanish and emphasize conversational skills, since communicating with patients is crucially important for doctors. Comprehensive reading and writing instruction helps round out the program. The university offers classes for beginners, intermediate speakers and advanced speakers, including an Advanced Spanish Medical Interviewing course.

8. University of Toledo College of Medicine

The University of Toledo College of Medicine offers medical Spanish courses and electives during all four years of medical school. 

Introduction to Medical Spanish and Advanced Medical Spanish last the equivalent of a semester and are worth credit hours. Another class — Medical Spanish for Healthcare Professionals — is a shorter, more intense course taught by a Spanish-speaking professor from a science department. 

In addition to formal Spanish courses, the university’s Spanish Club gives students a chance to practice medical Spanish regularly. Examples of activities include making health education packets in Spanish, interviewing Spanish-speaking students and working at the mobile, free migrant camp clinic to treat migrant workers. 

Lastly, the school offers several medical mission trips that travel to Latin American countries including Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. These trips give students valuable experience working with patients who speak different Spanish dialects. 

Bilingual Medical School Programs

Being bilingual isn’t just a great thing to put on a resume. It can vastly improve health outcomes for Spanish-speaking patients, making them feel more comfortable and understood when visiting the doctor. 

As the Hispanic population increases in the U.S., medical students should strive to have at least a basic understanding of medical Spanish. It could, quite literally, save lives. 

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.

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