Health professionals are daily confronted by the challenges of serving a population with whom they have difficulty communicating. Over 37 million people in the United States speak Spanish as their native language and more than 16 million have limited English proficiency.

At Rutgers–Camden, we offer a program in Medical Spanish that enhances the preparedness of our graduates who are entering the healthcare field, allowing them to meet the specific needs of these patients. This program serves both students who speak English as a native language and for those whom Spanish is their native or heritage language.

Admission Requirements

This certificate program is open to Rutgers students who are enrolled in a degree program.

Certificate Goals

Learning outcomes of this training in the Spanish for Health Professions Certificate Program 

  • Students will acquire language proficiency at the intermediate to advanced levels or beyond as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and scored on the computerized Oral Proficiency Interview (OPIc).
  • Students will be able to initiate and continue dialogue with Spanish speaking patients in a clinical setting by recording an accurate patient health history and responding to patient questions in the target language.
  • Students will interact directly with Spanish speaking community members in health, social services and/or education settings through engaged civic learning courses.
  • Students will complete a 40 hour Community Interpreter course and receive a nationally recognized certificate as a qualified medical interpreter. [1]
  • Students will construct clear, coherent, and articulate interpretations of the cultural idiosyncrasies that play a role in how Hispanic communities face health needs, initiatives, and/or crisis.

[1] Application for a Certificate in Community Interpreting is forthcoming.  Course will run Spring 2019.

Certificate Requirements

To earn the certificate, students must earn 16 (if they test out on a placement exam) or 18 credits

4 credits in Spanish language instruction (students who earn a score above 122 on the placement exam may test of this course)

940:102 Elementary Spanish II (4 credits) (offered on-line and on campus) Continuation of 50:940:101. Prerequisite: 50:940:101 or equivalent. For students with little knowledge of Spanish or with no more than three years of high school Spanish. Entering students will be placed according to the results of a placement exam. Students with four or more years of Spanish in high school may not take 50:940:102 for credit. Note that 50:940:102 is the minimum level for fulfilling the college general degree requirement in foreign languages.

940:121 Intermediate Spanish I (4 credits) This course aims to help students acquire communication skills in both oral and written Spanish through the interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes. Prerequisite: 50:940:102 or equivalent, or sufficient score on placement examination.

940:122 Intermediate Spanish II (4 credits) Continuation of 50:940:121. The course will have an emphasis on grammar and vocabulary review to achieve fluency in the language. Prerequisite: 50:940:121 or equivalent, or sufficient score on placement examination.

6 credits in Spanish for the Health Professions

940:127 Spanish for the Health Professions I (3 credits) This introductory course allows students with little or no prior knowledge of Spanish the ability to develop communication skills specifically adapted to the healthcare environment. Participants will acquire basic grammatical structures and vocabulary related to topics such as patient health history, symptoms for common ailments and diseases, physical conditions, pain scale, diabetes care, emergency response and basic nutrition. Students will come away with the ability to communicate with Spanish speaking patients on a basic level, and to understand patients’ simple statements and commands.

940:227 Spanish for the Health Professions II (3 credits) This intermediate course is geared toward students with prior knowledge of Spanish interested in developing and improving their communication skills in order to communicate effectively with Spanish-speaking patients, co-workers and professionals. It entails a basic review of grammatical structures for asking and answering frequent questions, and comprehensive vocabulary acquisition on topics such as detailed patient health history, symptoms for multiple conditions and diseases, maternity, pediatrics, diabetes, mental health and addiction. Students will be able to give advice to patients and respond to more complex questions and scenarios in a clinic or hospital setting.

940:327 Spanish for the Health Professions III (3 credits) For the near-native, heritage or native speaker of Spanish who may have little to no formal training in the language, this course will help develop students’ clinical language abilities in Spanish by providing them with role-play scenarios in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. Students are encouraged to communicate in paragraph level discourse, and are taught extensive medical vocabulary and advanced grammatical structures for communication. Students will be able to give advice to patients about disease prevention, nutrition, infant care, maternity care, emergency care, mental health, addiction treatment and accommodations for physical disabilities.

3 credits in field experience, internship, or study abroad

Learning Abroad Spanish (3 credit courses)

50:940:238 A Taste for Culture (Spain). Language, Culture, and Nutrition in the Spanish world.

57:705:393 Population Health in Cuba Through Sustainable Community Development

57:705:396 International Service Learning: Health and Healing in Bolivia

57:705:399 Health and Healing in Guatemala: A Service Learning Journey

A course focusing on a cultural, or language-oriented theme, including regular class meetings and appropriate assignments, as well as a short-term learning experience outside the United States. Students will interact with speakers of Spanish while abroad, as they navigate the culture and language in Latin America. All courses currently offered during spring break and summer in Cuba, Guatemala, Spain, and Bolivia.

940:392 Internship in Spanish for the Health Professions (1-3 credits)
Students will engage speakers of Spanish in Camden in a variety of roles, including assisting residents in the completion of medical forms at Vitality Heath Services and the Health and Wellness Center at LEAP Academy. Students will assistant Spanish speaking clients at the Kroc center in a variety of programs and activities.

940:492 Engaged Civic Learning in the Spanish for the Health Professions (3 credits)
Students interested in Nursing, Health Sciences or Social Work fields will go out into the community to engage residents who primarily speak Spanish on a variety of healthcare topics, including but not limited to nutrition, physical fitness, and diabetes care. The idea is to create a dialogue with community members on how to integrate healthy choices into daily living by listening to their needs and reaching a solution together. In addition, students will attend a weekly class at the University or on-line to support the fieldwork.

3 credits in Community Interpreting

50:940:402 The Community Interpreter (3 credits Pass/Fail)* ACTFL OPIc language proficiency assessment administered at the start of the course
Intended for use in universities, colleges and basic training programs, this course offers a comprehensive introduction to the profession of interpretation. While the emphasis is on medical, educational and social services interpreting, legal and faith-based interpreting are also addressed. The course includes a sample code of ethics. While the approach taken targets spoken language interpreting, the course is also useful for sign language interpreters. The text is written in plain English and visually designed to make the content clear and easy to read, with visual aids to meet the needs of an international audience whose native language may not be English. Divided into five chapters, the book tackles the biggest challenges in the field today. The course will be taught in English and available to students with proficiency in any world language. Students will take the ACTFL OPIc language proficiency exam prior to taking the course. Students will practice their interpreting skills at community partner organizations

3 credits from Latin American Studies or Spanish

50:590:210 Intro to Latin American Studies (taught in English) The course is an introduction to the Latin American area and to the Latin American Studies Program at Rutgers-Camden. Readings and lecturers cover a variety of disciplines and perspectives: Art History, Cultural Studies, Literature, Politics, History and Economics. The aim of introductory studies is to provide necessary knowledge for understanding historical development, demographic characteristics, cultures and societies of Latin America. Guest lectures supplement lectures by the course director. Each participating instructor and guest speaker has a broad and deep level of interest and experience in the region, which serves to enrich the learning process. You benefit from the unique perspectives and insights that each discipline has to offer. The course offers a historical background of Latin America but dwells mostly on the contemporary period.

50:940:207 Spanish Culture and Civilization (G) (3)A study of the principal characteristics of Spain as manifested in its history, art, and daily life. Formerly 50:940:301. Prerequisite: 50:940:122 or equivalent. Conducted in Spanish.

50: 940:208 Spanish American Cultures and Civilizations (taught in Spanish) This course will introduce students to the richness and diversity of the cultures of Spanish America from their inception to the present. Class time will be spent predominantly analyzing the material read and discussing its relevance to the development of Spanish American culture and civilization. Conducted in Spanish.

Program Co-Directors:
Nancy Pontes,
Ana Laguna,