A patient is in pain and needs your help, but you can’t understand what they are saying.
What do you do?
It is a stressful situation, and you can hope that you will never encounter this problem.
The fact of the matter is that the Spanish-speaking population is on the rise—if you haven’t prepared yourself, you might very well find yourself struggling to help someone who desperately needs assistance.
The good news is that there are plenty of strategies that you can use to learn proper medical Spanish.
For one, learning how to communicate effectively in Spanish, and in a professional manner, shows respect and can also help you achieve goals that would otherwise seem impossible. You can start there.
You might even build a do-it-yourself advanced vocabulary list to learn the words and phrases you need at your specific job.
However, there are tons of top-notch resources that have been designed with medical professionals in mind. You’ll learn bedside manner, essential medical language and more useful Spanish from these targeted learning tools.
Why Learn Medical Spanish?
To start a career in health care. Learning Spanish will improve your employability in a number of career fields, including health care. Even without an education in nursing or medicine, there are plenty of health care careers in which knowing Spanish will help you get your foot in the door. For instance, many hospitals and clinics need receptionists and medical translators.
To allow you to better serve patients if you already work in health care. Seeking medical care is stressful even in your native language—imagine how stressful it is for native Spanish speakers to have the added stress of needing to speak English when going to the doctor. You can remove some of this stress and get a more accurate idea of what a patient is experiencing by learning medical Spanish.
To improve your employment options if you are already in health care. Learning Spanish offers huge economic benefits. In areas with a large Spanish-speaking population, speaking Spanish is the leg up you need to get a better position.
10 Great Resources That Teach Spanish for Medical Professionals
The well-curated site medicalspanish.com offers specialized courses for various medical professionals including physicians and practitioners, hospital nurses, office nurses, medical assistants, emergency responders, physical therapists, occupational therapists and medical receptionists. Choose the course that is most relevant to what you need on a daily basis. This way, you will learn the types of vocabulary and phrases necessary for your specific career field.
Courses are entirely online and self-paced, so you can easily fit them into your busy schedule.
Prices for the courses start at $69 and include a certificate of completion.
If you don’t want to commit to a course, you might still want to check out some of their free learning resources.
This site’s Spanish for Medical Professionals I course requires a total of 24 hours of coursework over 6 weeks. There is a new start date every month, so you will have plenty of opportunities to jump on board.
It is designed for students with no previous Spanish experience and focuses on “survival” Spanish for the medical profession—basic phrases you will need in order to ask about symptoms, insurance, etc.
The first course costs $149 by itself. Those who are more serious about medical Spanish can take the full Medical Spanish Series, which adds on Medical Spanish II after the first course. If your Spanish is already pretty good, you may want to consider jumping right to the second course, which gets into specialist categories like mental health, oncology, dentistry and more.
Canopy Medical Spanish
Available: iOS | Android
Canopy offers several options for anyone looking to use or learn medical Spanish, but Canopy does primarily target doctors and nurses.
Canopy Speak offers phrases in 15 languages, including Spanish. While you might also use Canopy Speak to study seriously, this program is intended more for quick and easy translation without having to know the language.
Canopy Learn, on the other hand, is intended to help you fully learn medical Spanish. With plenty of activities and video lessons, it is carefully designed to teach you important words and phrases.
Canopy Quest is also designed to help you learn medical Spanish, but it is designed as a game. It is helpful to pair it with one of Canopy’s other offerings for a more well-rounded education.
You can try Canopy for free, but continued use requires a subscription.
Available: Browser | iOS | Android
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
Best of all, FluentU offers numerous benefits for medical professionals. You’ll find lots of great videos focused on interactions between doctors and patients in hospitals, general physical health and more relevant topics.
Audio Medical Spanish by Mavro
Available: iOS | Android
Mavro’s “Audio Medical Spanish” is free to download with additional in-app purchases to expand content.
It offers a nice selection of words and phrases organized thematically. This will make them easy to access if you need them in a pinch or if you are working on learning medical Spanish. “Audio Medical Spanish” offers topics ranging from getting basic personal information to specific terms on respiration, stroke, chest pain, depression and more. The app also offers audio which you can learn to practice your pronunciation or play for a patient.
With an additional in-app purchase, you can even bookmark words and phrases and use flashcards to study them.
Free Online Resources
This free website offers a wide variety of useful resources for anyone in a medical profession.
Practicing Spanish offers lessons on basic Spanish in addition to more specialized topics like anatomy.
Best of all, Practicing Spanish has lessons organized by profession so that anyone working in any medical field can learn words and phrases that will be immediately useful for them. There are lessons for receptionists, aides, nurses, EMTs, 911 operators and specific specialty areas. Each lesson comes with both audio and text.
Practicing Spanish also offers a featured medical dialogue each month to help you practice key words and phrases in context.
“Spanish in the Medical Field” by Smithville Public Library
This helpful YouTube video provided by a library in Texas offers lessons on basic Spanish, body parts, patient complaints and scenarios.
The information appears both in print and in audio, so it is great for anyone looking to learn basic medical Spanish or reinforce information from other resources.
Language Tailor Medical Spanish
Language Tailor offers over 50 free YouTube videos on medical Spanish. The wide array of resources is great for anyone from a novice Spanish speaker looking to get down the basics to more advanced speakers who need customized vocabulary.
Lessons include basic greetings, grammar, anatomy, location directions, presenting treatment options and much more. With both audio and text, these video lessons will provide you with a well-rounded medical Spanish education.
“Spanish for Health Care Professionals”
William C. Harvey’s “Spanish for Health Care Professionals” offers a wide variety of words and phrases intended for doctors, nurses and other health care workers including social workers, dentists and optometrists.
There are basic Spanish lessons to help you understand the language followed by more specialized sections in topics like anatomy, admitting patients and specific scenarios dealing with problems like broken bones, drug problems, pregnancy, prescriptions and accidents.
The basic Spanish section makes this book approachable for even beginning Spanish learners, but more advanced learners will still benefit from the abundance of specific medical terms and phrases.
“Medical Spanish Made Incredibly Quick!”
“Medical Spanish Made Incredibly Quick!” is designed for the working professional.
It is pocket-sized, so you can carry it around at work and use it like a handy phrasebook. Additionally, the pages are wipe-able so that you can write notes to yourself and erase them to clear space as needed. However, you can go well beyond the phrasebook-style utility and also use the book to thoroughly study medical Spanish.
Conveniently, the book leans on “yes” or “no” questions to help you easily understand any patient’s responses. This way, you can memorize phrases and get information even if you don’t really speak great Spanish.
“Medical Spanish Made Incredibly Quick!” also offers a picture dictionary. If you don’t know a word, you can point to a related image for the patient.
With these 10 great resources to learn medical Spanish, you will never have to leave a Spanish-speaking patient suffering due to a language barrier.
Now, get back out there and do the job you love—en español.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.