Spanish for health services course offered for first time this semester

¿Habla usted español? As the Hispanic population in Tennessee and the Southeast region continues to grow, the need for professionals who can speak their language is more important than ever.

That’s the reason behind Tennessee Tech University foreign language assistant professor Mark Groundland’s Spanish for health services course.

Taught this semester for the first time, it dealt specifically with vocabulary and topics health service providers need to know to better communicate with their Hispanic clients, and it was open to TTU nursing majors and students of other majors who plan to pursue a career in the health services industry.

“This was an excellent course,” said Jason Buckner, a senior from Monterey who is majoring in biochemistry and biology in the health sciences. “It greatly exceeded my expectations because we covered more health information and more topics than I anticipated we’d cover.”

What’s more, he continued, Groundland found ways to make it fun for students to learn the vocabulary.

“We did many types of learning activities that kept us interested, such as playing games of Family Feud or Pictionary to help us learn diseases, symptoms and anatomical terms in Spanish,” Buckner said.

They also participated in role-playing situations that allowed them to use health-related verbs and vocabulary words in a flowing conversation.

But the course wasn’t all fun and games. As part of his or her final grade, each student was required to choose between making a short video in Spanish about a health care issue or observing a Spanish-speaking health care provider on a home visit to a local Hispanic family, Groundland said.

“Although our subject matter was much more focused, this course was more or less equivalent to a beginning level Spanish course — but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a challenge to the students,” he said.

“I had excellent students in this course, and they’ve worked really hard,” Groundland continued. “I hope what they learned in this course has been valuable to them and that it will serve them well in their future careers.”

Buckner said he felt the course had definitely been beneficial. Probably most beneficial, he said, is the importance of the topic and material in relation to the students taking the class.

“I plan on going to medical school to become a pediatrician, and I believe this course will help me to provide better health care to the Hispanic children I will serve in the future and to the Hispanic community in general,” he said.

Groundland expressed his appreciation for other campus and community departments that helped contribute to the course’s success. They include TTU’s School of Nursing and nursing assistant professor Gail Stearman, Putnam County Health Department and Spanish interpreter Rosalba Houle.

At the end of the course, students should have gained a deeper appreciation and better understanding for Hispanic cultures and should now be able to do the following in Spanish:

• Ask and answer personal questions in the present tense;
• describe the human anatomy;
• ask and answer questions about physical ailments;
• and give medical advice using polite commands.

For more information about the course, call Groundland at 931/372-3158.

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