There are inevitable challenges in medical practise when treating Spanish-speaking patients through a communication barrier.
Whichever medical field you’re in and whatever your Spanish proficiency level, there are clear benefits in acquiring Spanish medical phrases and terminology.
If you’re searching for the best resources and apps to learn medical Spanish, read on.
Medical Spanish resources to help you communicate as a medical professional
Below I’ve listed the best and most important resources you’re going to need as a medical professional learning Spanish.
Medical Spanish websites
I’ve started the list with medical Spanish websites that feature a wealth of medical Spanish information and vocabulary.
The practicingspanish.com website was created as an immersion website for the Spanish language — for medical Spanish terms and phrases in particular.
The site not only features a large selection of vocabulary, but you will also find translations of dialogues and audios here.
Some of the specific phrases featured on the website include anatomical vocabulary related to both the human body and the human face.
Each of these anatomical body sections features comprehensive diagrams of the body and face with vocabulary and audios in Spanish to help you understand how to pronounce them.
When you access the Medline Plus website, you will have the option to read the information in English or Spanish.
So, if you’re a medical professional with an intermediate-level understanding of Spanish, you might choose to stick to the Spanish version.
If you’re just starting, we recommend the English version.
This website features an in-depth medical encyclopaedia, a section on medicines and supplements, various topics on health and wellbeing, and healthy recipes.
It is packed with medical Spanish vocabulary that will take your learning to the next level.
Just like Medline Plus, the cancer.gov/espanol website offers you the chance to access its contents in Spanish or English.
This website is a more specific medical Spanish website because is indicated by the name, it focuses on cancer and cancer-related illnesses.
You’ll appreciate the depth of information on this website. There are plenty of resources for patients and health professionals here, which include the specific names of each type of cancer and information on cancer treatment.
You will be able to learn a wide range of medical Spanish vocabulary and use it as a medical professional.
Organización Mundial de la Salud
The Organizatión Mundial de la Salud website (also known as the World Health Organisation/WHO website) is available in a range of languages — English and Spanish included.
The Spanish version is full of medical Spanish terms that will help you become more familiar with the vocabulary and terms in Spanish.
You can search the temas de salud (health topics) menu to find the information you are looking for.
If you are a Spanish beginner, switching back and forth between the English and Spanish versions can help you familiarise yourself with the essential medical Spanish phrases.
Medical Spanish apps
Various medical Spanish apps will make it simpler to get to grips with the Spanish medical vocabulary you might require.
Here are some of the ones to watch out for.
Care to Translate: Digital medical translator
What you’ll get with the Care to Translate medical Spanish app is the ability to translate between English and Spanish, and Spanish and English, specifically for medical Spanish terms.
The app is ideal for translating to Latin American Spanish and European Spanish, featuring accurate audios for each region’s pronunciation.
There are various health terms across various topics that you can look up.
From dental care to psychiatry to maternity care and even COVID-19 phrases, this app has a vast selection of critical and relevant health topics that are important in a medical setting.
Spanish Medical Dictionary
No matter what level of Spanish you have, the Spanish Medical Dictionary is ideal for you as a medical professional.
This app will assist you if you are a medical student and need to communicate with medical staff or if you are a medical interpreter and need to translate tricky vocabulary.
You can use this app offline if you don’t require the images that come with it, and another advantage of the Spanish Medical Dictionary is its audios.
The app features more than 334,000 entries for medical Spanish terms, and approximately 248,000 synonyms to help widen your medical Spanish vocabulary as a medical professional.
Ideal for medical professionals who are aiming to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients, MediBabble lets you download a range of medical Spanish terminology.
The app also enables you to listen to and translate medical Spanish related questions, which are available as audios via the app.
The translations offered by the MediBabble app are accurate, as each phrase has been evaluated by native Spanish speakers who are trained in the medical field.
If you are a medical student, a nurse or an administrator in a hospital, the app will help you find out more about your Spanish-speaking patients’ symptoms quickly and efficiently, without wasting time.
Canopy Speak is a medical Spanish app that provides more than 4,700 medical phrases in Spanish and translations for specific medical-related questions.
This app gives you vocabulary for a huge range of medical specialties, which include dentistry, medicine and surgery.
From medical Spanish terms related to blood pressure to conditions related to the heart, you will be able to also translate questions and then ask your patients about their particular symptoms to create a treatment plan with ease.
Medical Spanish courses
Below, I’ve included four medical Spanish courses that are ideal if you aim to expand your medical Spanish knowledge, or start from scratch and learn the basics.
Take a look.
Udemy - Medical Spanish
The Udemy Medical Spanish course will teach you the crucial healthcare Spanish vocabulary and help you with your goal of speaking to patients about medical ailments.
Some of the key topics of this course include pain management and medication. You will learn how to pronounce a range of essential medical phrases without faltering and will also explore anatomical phrases in Spanish proficiently.
Not only will you learn the particular Spanish translations for over-the-counter medications and how to inform your patients how to use them, but you will also find out essential phrases that correspond to allergies and personal data.
The course was specifically designed for pharmacists, nurses, doctors and medical health professionals whose goal is to become more familiar with medical Spanish terms.
Coursera - Spanish for Successful Communication in Healthcare Settings
Coursera’s Spanish for Successful Communication in Healthcare Settings course is just what you’ll need if you understand Spanish at an intermediate level and want to develop your knowledge of medical Spanish terms.
The course is split into different sections. In one section you will cover the names of anatomical parts of the body and appropriate modes address (tú vs usted) for patients.
In other sections, you will learn situation-specific language about the physical examination and medical Spanish terms for common illnesses.
You will also be introduced to the topic of how to explain your treatment plan to your patients, and another topic on how to clear up any confusion when communicating with your patients.
edX - Foundations of Medical Spanish
When you study edX’s Foundations of Medical Spanish you will take significant strides forward when it comes to communicating with Spanish-speaking patients.
Once you have studied the course, you will be equipped with the tools required to understand the symptoms your patients are experiencing.
Some of the key topics covered in the course are — the structure of the Spanish language to augment communication skills, the essential medical Spanish language vocabulary required to communicate with patients and Latin American culture concerning the medical field.
Given that this is a foundation course, you will start with the basics, which include the crucial verbs ser, estar, tener and haber in the context of the healthcare environment.
You will then go on to study how to describe a patient’s physical characteristics, their personal data and how to ask questions using Spanish question words.
Lengalia - Medical Spanish
For medical professionals and those who prescribe medicines, the Lengalia Medical Spanish course is geared towards you.
The course aims to help you expand your medical Spanish knowledge and become more confident when speaking with Spanish-speaking patients.
The course teaches various themes including topics titled ‘operations’, ‘in the hospital’ and ‘changing lifestyle habits’.
You will be taught a wide range of vocabulary, gain access to technical texts to extend your understanding, be able to listen to audios and have exercises to boost your knowledge.
Upon completion of the Lengalia Medical Spanish course, you will be given a certificate and will confidently and efficiently be able to communicate with your Hispanic patients.
Reasons why medical Spanish is important for medical professionals
Before we get started with the resources and apps, why is medical Spanish important? Here are three reasons why you should learn medical Spanish, and how it can help you in your medical career.
1. To enhance treatment outcomes
First of all, an understanding of medical Spanish will enhance the outcomes of how you treat your patients. There’s no doubt about it.
If you know more about your patient’s symptoms and medical illness you will be able to better ensure they adhere to the treatment you administer.
You will also be able to make the necessary adjustments to the treatment plan you have created more easily if you have accurate knowledge of your patient’s symptoms and how they are progressing.
2. To boost rapport with patients
Your patient might have a sensitive or awkward medical illness that needs to be treated. In cases like these, knowledge of medical Spanish can help you avoid making them feel uncomfortable or self-conscious.
By understanding them, you will not only help your patient overcome a medical problem, but you will also boost the rapport you have with your patients and ensure they feel comfortable when receiving medical attention.
3. To avoid making a serious error
Various, serious medical errors can occur — even in situations where your patients can speak your language. Imagine the mistakes that can happen if you don’t understand your patient.
Being prepared in all situations can be the critical factor that helps you avoid making mistakes.
So, if you have a Spanish-speaking patient, you will avoid making a serious medical error and boost your chances of treating them successfully by learning medical Spanish vocabulary.
Tips to help you learn medical Spanish terms as a healthcare professional
I’ve reached the end of my list of resources. What’s left is for me to give you a couple of pointers when it comes to learning medical Spanish vocabulary and how to communicate seamlessly.
Here’s how you can do each of these.
- Flashcards are a great way to memorise the terms you’ve learned in a Spanish course. Write the Spanish term on one side of the flashcard and the English term on the other side. Repeat this for all the vocabulary you want to memorise. Once you’ve practised each of the terms, go through the stack and see which ones you know, and which ones you don’t.
- Consulting a medical translation app/dictionary in emergencies and then adding the unknown phrases to a list of favourites can help you a lot. Once you have built up a list of medical Spanish terms in your favourites, you’ll know that these are the words you were least familiar with. You can then focus on this list of terms.
Treating patients is always going to present extra challenges if you cannot understand them.
Hopefully these resources give you a good starting point.
Were there any other medical Spanish resources you’d like to see listed here?
Mention them below in the comments!