Medical Spanish immersion course launched by Nevada State College for nursing students and graduates

By Mandi Enger

As the Hispanic population in Southern Nevada continues to grow, the need for bilingual medical professionals is also increasing. To answer this need, the Nevada State College (NSC) School of Nursing has begun offering a four-week immersive medical Spanish course, launching this summer. NSC has a cooperative agreement with the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) in Guadalajara, México for the course.

Licensed Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduates as well as current nursing students nearing the completion of their degrees are eligible to apply.

"There is an ongoing need for local nurses to have an understanding of both the culture and language of our Hispanic community in order to effectively communicate with patients and provide proper treatment," said Sherri Coffman, interim dean of the school of nursing. "The medical Spanish immersion program has been developed for this purpose. In turn, it will also increase the marketability of NSC's BSN graduates."

Students accepted into the course stay with host families in Guadalajara during their coursework. The first two weeks of study include an immersive language training held at UAG focusing on medical terminology. During the final two weeks, students visit hospitals and clinics to interact with patients. As their focus is on practicing the Spanish language, tasks primarily include documenting patient history and discussing care, rather than actively participating in medical treatments.

The initial cohort of BSN graduates, including five participants from NSC and one from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, are taking part in the program under the supervision of Pam Call, NSC nursing instructor and program coordinator, June 25 July 20.

"The professors at UAG are energetic, dedicated and even come in early to tutor the students," said Call. "It is inspiring to see the progress our students are making in just a few short weeks."

Prior to acceptance into the course, applicants were reviewed by NSC faculty in collaboration with education director Susan Adamek, RN from St. Rose Dominican Hospitals. "This is an exceptional opportunity for these future nurses. Improving their understanding of the language and culture will help them provide compassionate, patient centered care to Hispanic patients," said Adamek.

Funding for the first cohort of students was provided through a partnership with the Nevada Hospital Association.

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