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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Building Connections with Spanish‐speaking Patients


In California, over 18 percent of the young population speaks Spanish and, in the US as a whole, between 41 and 53 million people speak Spanish as their primary language. This may be more than the entire country of Colombia with 48 million or even Spain at 46 million and seocnd only to Mexico. Over 3/4 of those Spanish speakers in California list Spanish as their primary language. I have lived and worked with the Spanish-speaking population of California for my entire life. However, my limited skills in Spanish have created difficulties in interacting with this population both in my personal and professional life. In order to gain a better understanding of both the Spanish language and the Californians who speak it, I spent two months in the northern part of California's Central Valley living with a Spanish-speaking host and owrking in three clinics serving this population. In addition, I completed an online Canopy Medical Spanish course, developed a digital deck of flash cards to accompany the program, and learned first-hand some of the issues this population faces related to health care and health care access.

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