Spanish Linguistics in the Medical Field: Interpretation

Student Author(s)

Jayne Kessel

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Daniel Woolsey

Document Type


Event Date



The current study explores Spanish linguistics in the medical field and the crucial role of the medical interpreter in patient-doctor communication. Given that it is estimated that Latinos will make up 30% of the population in the United States by 2050, bridging the linguistic gap in the medical field is an urgent need not only due to language barriers but also sociocultural differences. The role of an interpreter extends far beyond simply translating words; he or she must also recognize a situation as bicultural and not simply bilingual. Difficulties arise with access and quality of interpretation in hospital settings, where there is already a lack of time for patient-doctor interaction. Studies have found that the use of a professional interpreter can result in increased patient satisfaction, use of services, comprehension, cooperation, and general state of health. However, there remain areas that still need to be addressed, including providing patients with the means to accurately inform their doctors about all of their symptoms and training healthcare professionals to be more culturally competent. With both current findings and future recommendations in mind, the role of an interpreter must shift from being a conduit of information to being an advocate of the patient and his or her needs. This will result in access to better medical care for all.

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