August 5, 2013 — Vol. 29 No. 27
Idaho State University will offer a Spanish for Health Professions degree program beginning fall 2013 that will help its graduates better serve the health care needs of our state, region and country.
"While we were designing the program we did extensive research and we didn't find anything like it in the U.S.," said Helen Tarp, ISU associate professor of Spanish and the director of the new program. "As far as we know, this is the only program of its kind in the country."
The program will be a joint effort between the ISU Department of Languages and Literature in the College of Arts and Letters and the ISU Division of Health Sciences. It provides both health professions and language students additional credentials and expertise for their careers.
"For students in the health professions it will help them find better jobs and be more competitive getting into professional health schools," Tarp said. "For the language students it opens whole new career paths."
There is a great need for Spanish speakers in health care settings in the United States. In Idaho, for example, the Hispanic population increased by 63 percent in the last 10 years, according to Tarp. Nationally, by 2050, the U.S. Hispanic/Latino population will be approximately 24 percent of the entire population of the United States. Some of these residents are more proficient in Spanish than English and some speak English "not well or not at all."
In health care settings, from emergency room interactions to communications during routine exams, there is a need for practitioners to understand Spanish, and this degree will help prepare these professionals.
"In emergency rooms or doctors' offices having someone proficient in communicating in Spanish will make everybody's lives easier," Tarp said.
For the language-oriented students from the College of Arts and Letters, the degree could potentially open up jobs and careers in medical translation and other fields. There's a huge demand for people who can translate from English to Spanish for everything from prescription information to medical information displayed on websites, to communicating with Spanish-speakers in a medical, dental or agency setting.
The program is designed to dovetail with existing curriculum requirements in both the College of Arts and Letters and the Division of Health Professions, making it easier for students to double-major in their chosen fields.
Language and culture will be emphasized in the curriculum.
"The program will offer the best of both worlds," Tarp said. "Our students will learn concrete language and cultural skills so they can use both effectively."