Language Opportunities

Connecting through conversation

Having the skills to converse with a patient in their native language not only improves your ability to care for them medically but may also allow for a connection on a deeper level. Several language opportunities are available to Michigan medical students: 

Medicine in Spanish Elective

The intermediate Medical Spanish elective aims to strengthen students’ confidence in common patient interactions by focusing on useful phrases to interview and perform a physical exam in Spanish. Additionally, this course focuses on cultural competency and health issues that Hispanic/Latinx patients face. Medicine in Spanish also offers an Casos Clínicos course for those students who are native or advanced proficiency speakers or those who have already taken the intermediate course. It is a case-based discussion of particular diseases and the clinical thinking necessary to develop a diagnosis. There is also a Beginner Med Spanish Seminar Series that focuses on learning health care-related vocabulary and how to work with interpreters
(no prerequisites or prior experience necessary).

Medicine in Mandarin Elective

Medicine in Mandarin is offered as an elective course to help students develop the language skills needed to effectively interact with patients in Mandarin. Students with intermediate to advanced knowledge of spoken Mandarin are invited to apply to take this course. Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of a short essay, oral assessment and established commitment to working with Mandarin-speaking patients in their careers. Approximately 10 students are selected for this course each year.

American Sign Language Elective

The American Sign Language (ASL) elective is a one-credit course for first-year medical students to learn basic ASL and explore topics of Deaf culture and health disparities specific to the Deaf and hard of hearing population. The course will be taught by a qualified ASL instructor. The class will meet online for one hour, two times per week, for a total of 10 weeks. Students do not need to know any ASL to enroll.

Medical French Student Organization 

The Medical French student organization consists of a group of French-speaking medical students and residents who are seeking to improve their language skills in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Group members are at a variety of levels, though some prior experience is recommended. Four to five formal Medical French lectures will be offered per year to cover basic terminology that will benefit patient interactions in numerous specialties. Additional bimonthly social gatherings allow members to practice their French freely with their peers. The organization is also looking to establish partnerships with interpreter services and community health clinics for French-speakers to volunteer their skills with patients face-to-face.