Improving Patient Provider Communication for Latinos at Temple University Hospital and Temple University School of Medicine

This "report from the field" documents a series of interventions developed by Temple University Health System and School of Medicine through participation in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative entitled Hablamos Juntos.

Temple University created the Dual-Role Medical Interpreter Program to train bilingual employees to serve as medical translators. The program included 40 hours of medical interpretation, written and spoken tests, and bedside training. Temple University also created a medical Spanish elective designed in concert with the medical school curriculum. This elective allowed medical students to become fluent in medical Spanish.

Key Findings:

  • The Dual-Role Medical Interpreter Program resulted in four medical interpreters who served 8,000 patients over two years.
  • The Medical Spanish Elective enrolled a total of 180 medical students over the period studied. Students learned history and physical diagnosis skills and were tested in Objective Structure Clinical Exams. The Medical Spanish Elective led to the creation of a copyrighted medical Spanish manual.

These two programs are examples of efforts to increase the availability of medical translators by training health care staff and medical students. The programs generated replicable models and best practices for use at other health facilities and medical schools.