Program Creator and Director: Ana Laguna, Ph.D            Coordinator: Eveling Hondros, MAT


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 be able to communicate 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 Community Interpreter. [1]
  • Students will understand the cultural idiosyncrasies that play a role in how Hispanic communities face health needs, initiatives, and/or crisis.

[1] Certificate is internal, open to all Rutgers University students.


Certificate Requirements

To earn the certificate, students must earn  18 credits

6 credits in Spanish for Health Profession language instruction

940: 103: Emergency Spanish ~Intensive course 101+102 in one semester (3 credits)

This course starts at a 101 level and reaches a 102 language proficiency in only one semester. It assumes no prior knowledge of Spanish, and provides all students and health professionals the ability to establish productive communication with Spanish-speaking patients. Prerequisite: None.

940:127 Spanish for the Professions I (3 credits)
A course that assumes an elementary knowledge of Spanish (101-level). It develops the ability to develop basic, communication skills specifically adapted to the health care environment. Participants will acquire an elementary understanding of grammar and vocabulary in topics such as patient history, symptoms, physical conditions, and emergency response. Prerequisite: Elementary level of Spanish.

940:227 Spanish for the Professions II (3 credits)
For students with prior knowledge of Spanish interested in developing and improving oral and written skills in order to communicate effectively with Spanish-speaking patients, co-workers and professionals. It entails a solid review of grammar and a comprehensive  acquisition of vocabulary in topics such as, patient history, symptoms, physical conditions, and emergency response. Prerequisite: Spanish 127 or interview with Director of Spanish for Health Professions Program.

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.

50:940:427 Health and Wellness in the Latinx Community (3 credits)

For students with prior knowledge of Spanish at the intermediate or advanced levels strongly interested in developing and improving the oral and written skills needed to communicate with our community partners and their clients. Participants taking this course will expand their vocabulary in a variety of medical and social service contexts and specialized topics such as nutrition, elder patient care , mental health, and primary care. Prerequisite:  Interview with Director of Spanish for Health Professions Program.

3 credits in Field Experience, Internship, or Study/Leaning Abroad Courses


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

50:940:437 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

6 credits in Interdisciplinary Courses on Spanish, Health, Culture, and Equity


50: 940: 391 Humanism in Healthcare (3 credits)

Humanistic medicine refers to a healthcare model that emphasizes concern for human dignity, whole person care and a patient-centered outlook. It prescribes a respectful and culturally- informed communication among the diverse members of the healthcare team, and their patients. For such reasons, humanism in medicine is now identified as an important contributor to patient care and physician wellness. While few curriculums include a course dedicated to this subject, this class is specifically designed to explore through the humanistic lens the intersections of human connection, patient care and medical practice. Prerequisite: Interview with Director of Spanish for Health Professions Program.

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.



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