The Influence of Pre-Trip Medical Spanish Education on a US-Based, Medical Student Service Trip: A Cohort Study




Public Health, Travel Medicine, Medical Education, Medical Spanish, International Service Trip, Service Learning, Medical Students, Spanish Language, Health Education, International Educational Exchange, Cross-Cultural Comparison, Patient Communication, Language Competence, Cultural Competency, Educational Measurement, Cohort Studies, Health Services Accessibility, Health Disparities, Professional-Patient Relations, Translating, Communication Barriers, Global Health, Health Equity


Background: International service trips are increasingly common in medical school curricula. Medical Spanish is an essential tool in healthcare interactions with Spanish-speaking patients globally. Medical Spanish classes are offered at many medical schools, but it is not known whether they increase confidence for medical students on Spanish-speaking service trips.

Methods: A prospective cohort study of medical students attending one of two sister campuses who completed pre- and post-international medical service trip questionnaires. Data collected includes demographics, confidence, and perceived experiences. Data analyses involved a multivariable regression assuming an ordered multinomial response, FREQ procedure, and the GLIMMIX procedure on SAS STAT v.9.4.

Results: Demographics significantly associated with confidence categories are female sex, length of Spanish education, previously having lived in a Spanish country, and experience speaking Spanish with patients. Confidence communicating in Spanish shows the highest gain in significant categories post-trip while confidence working with interpreters and feeling adequately trained to treat Hispanics showed the lowest. Participants having taken Medical Spanish before did not improve their confidence. However, participants with prior Medical Spanish experience reported significantly higher benefit from this education in that it gave them an advantage and helped them connect better with patients.

Conclusion: Our findings reinforce the importance of language-concordance and confidence in patient interactions while demonstrating that prior Medical Spanish experience may not significantly improve confidence on a Spanish-speaking international trip, especially among non-fluent students. Spanish experience and proficiency should not be a deterring factor for students looking to go on a medical trip.


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The image presents a visual abstract for the study titled "Effect of Medical Spanish Experience on Confidence and Outcomes During International Medical Trips: Gender Differences in Confidence Levels." It illustrates a flow of outcomes starting with both male and female medical students who undergo Medical Spanish education. This educational experience is represented by a speech bubble containing the letters "ES" for Español (Spanish), suggesting a focus on language training. The outcome of this education is indicated by a directional arrow leading to an icon of a person carrying a suitcase with a medical cross, symbolizing enhanced confidence in international medical service. The abstract also highlights a gender-based distinction, with a greater-than sign showing that female medical students surpass their male counterparts in most categories, which is also connected by an arrow to the final icon, reinforcing the theme of confidence in international medical service. The design suggests that Spanish language proficiency is linked to increased confidence, particularly among female medical students, when participating in international medical trips.


2024-03-25 — Updated on 2024-04-12

How to Cite

Evensen-Martinez, M., Santiago, M., Martinez, R., Beck, D., Trawick, A., Zapata, I., & Wardle, M. (2024). The Influence of Pre-Trip Medical Spanish Education on a US-Based, Medical Student Service Trip: A Cohort Study. International Journal of Medical Students, 12(1), 35–42.