Implementation of a Spanish Language Track at a Family Medicine Residency Program
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U.S. legal and ethical standards for healthcare dictate that patients with limited English proficiency receive language-concordant treatment, yet patients commonly receive inappropriate care due to inadequate language provision from an interpreter or healthcare provider (Flores et al., 2003; Prince & Nelson, 1995). Few studies have measured and reported objective data on the success of language instruction during medical residency programs. This thesis outlines the development of a Spanish language track for the Waco Family Medicine Residency Program and reports on its first phase of implementation. Five first-year residents volunteered and qualified for the 3-year program designed to improve their proficiency to the level necessary for independent communication. Participants’ training included workshops, role-play, and presentation of patient histories to bilingual physician mentors. Qualified dual-role interpreters were recruited to serve as models for residents. Pre- and post-test Spanish language proficiency was measured through objective and subjective assessment via an external oral medical language exam and participants’ self-assessments. After 6 months, the 5 residents improved significantly, increasing their scores by an average of 8%. If this trajectory continues, graduates from the program should be able to independently provide healthcare in Spanish and thereby establish positive relationships with the Spanish-speaking patient populations they serve.