November 12, 2020

Fluent in Spanish? Volunteers needed to portray patients in Medical Spanish program

¿Hablas español? Se necesitan voluntarios para ayudar a los estudiantes de medicina a practicar cómo interactuar con los pacientes de habla hispana.

Leaders of the UM Medical School's Medical Spanish program are seeking volunteers to help medical students practice engaging with Spanish-speaking patients. All medical students participate in Standardized Patient Interviews, role-play scenarios with actors portraying patients reporting common illnesses or symptoms. Those engaged in the Medical Spanish program participate in extra sessions with Spanish speakers, and more volunteers who speak the language are needed.

“These role-play sessions come at the end of the year and are a critical opportunity for the students in our program to practice and apply the lessons and skills we’ve been working on for months,” said Robert Porter, a third-year medical student who is one of the Medical Spanish elective’s chief organizers.

Volunteers are given the scenario (e.g., a presenting complaint and demographic information) and follow a provided script. A Spanish-speaking faculty member observes the interaction to provide feedback and guidance to the student. The sessions last about 45 minutes and this year will be conducted entirely on Zoom between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4.

The only requirement to volunteer is a fluency in Spanish. Patient actors could be undergraduate or graduate students, faculty members from other schools, alumni or even community members. Prospective volunteers can fill out an interest form here and program organizers will reach out.

“We have 28 Medical Spanish students this year who are gearing up for this process, our largest group yet,” Porter said. “I’m hoping we can begin to build a network of volunteers moving forward to support this important program. There is a growing need for physicians who are able to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients in their own language.”