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"Spanish for Public Health Professionals" CIEE Alcalá

A popular course this session is “Spanish for future health professionals” which is for students who plan to be doctors, nurses, medical assistants, paramedics, EMTs, administrators and who need to use Spanish in their workplace. Last year, the Universidad de Alcalá- Instituto Benjamin Franklin signed an agreement with Alcalá´s medical center, Hospital Universitario Principe Asturias,  which allows U.S. college students to do internships as final year medical residents.  One of the hospital requirements is that American students are majors in pre-medicine, chemistry, biology, physiology, nursing, physical therapy or other medical sciences. Although the lab fee and hospital coordination makes the class tuition more expensive than regular Institute classes, the CIEE program did not charge for the additional internship expenses.


The course has a practical approach, which includes learning medical terminology, understanding the most commonly used grammatical structures and learning cultural aspects which every health care professional should know.  CIEE students visited the hospital Principe de Asturias in Alcalá during the second week of classes, accompanied by their course Professor Dr. Mar Martín, Institute Coordinator Professor Rosi García Borroso and the CIEE Resident Director, Cristina Blanco.




According to CIEE student Paula Gomez from the University of Iowa, “This first visit to the hospital was great because we got to see the many aspects of running a public medical center. I used to work in a daycare center in Iowa and now I get to see how doctors and nurses work with children here in Spain. My individual practical experience at the hospital is in the neonatal section. I am observing first hand how the medical staff works with babies. It´s a wonderful experience!”



During the five hour visit CIEE students were joined by Dr. Gomez Carrasco, a pediatrician and professor at the Universidad de Alcalá, while also meeting with other hospital staff  that explained and showed the different hospital sections. For example, students entered the operating room and the hospital kitchen to get a firsthand look. In addition, the class visited and learned about the infrastructure of the emergency services, which is known as one the best services throughout the Madrid region, and completed a walk through with commentary of the baby delivery rooms.


Another CIEE student, Scott Symonds from Williams College has been fascinated by another aspect he learned during the hospital visit: “As a foreigner, I am allowed to donate blood here in Spain. All I have to do is bring my passport and show that I weigh over 50 kilos. In the US, I have worked with emergency ambulance services and there are a lot of limitations which do not seem to apply here in Spain.” 


The course is taught by professor Mar Martín (PhD in Biology and MA in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language), who guides her students to communicate effectively in a medical environment. Class participants learn and practice the differences between medical terminology in Latin American countries and in Spain. Students also learn intercultural skills outside the classroom through regular visits to local medical facilities.


Dr. Martin is a well respected faculty member who previously worked at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Columbia College and the Instituto Cervantes. Her main research area is teaching Spanish for heritage learners and medical professionals. In her free time, she sings in the Universidad de Alcalá choir.





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