Original Publication
Open Access

Talk Louder? Communicating With Your Spanish Speaking Patients

Published: June 20, 2011 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8427

Included in this publication:

  • Talk Louder Case Blueprint.doc
  • Talk Louder - Instructor's Guide.docx
  • Talk Louder 1 - brief case summary.docx
  • Talk Louder 2 - Standardized Patient Training Guide.pdf
  • Talk Louder 3 - Dialogue.pdf
  • Talk Louder 4 - Triage Note.pdf
  • Talk Louder 5 - Physical Exam Results.pdf
  • Talk Louder 6 - Pelvic Exam Results.pdf
  • Talk Louder 7 - Video.m4v
  • Talk Louder 8 - Working with an Interpreter.pptx
  • Talk Louder 9 - Evaluation Tool.docx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Residents often try to communicate with patients who do not speak their language. In the emergency department, residents may not feel they have enough time and resources to use interpreter services and may instead attempt to communicate with patients on their own. This can be fraught with danger. Therefore, this resource is intended to demonstrate to residents the difficulty and risk of communicating on their own or through a family member. The objective of this session is to make residents feel more comfortable using a phone or live interpreter to communicate with non-English-speaking patients and less comfortable using a family member for communication. During our implementation of this resource, the learners had very low proficiency in medical Spanish. Fifteen out of 20 had little to no fluency, and five out of 20 reported limited proficiency. We were able to demonstrate effectiveness by pre- and postsession evaluations. Prior to the session, more than half the learners were comfortable or very comfortable using a family member to interpret. After the session, only seven residents remained comfortable. Three learners were uncomfortable using an interpreter phone, and two were uncomfortable using a live interpreter before the session. Afterward, no learner was uncomfortable with either of these two methods.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, learners will be to:

  1. Understand the importance of using interpreters to improve patient care.
  2. Understand the differences between using a family member, an interpreter phone, and a live interpreter.
  3. Develop strategies to improve communication with non-English-speaking patients.

Author Information

  • Edward Callahan: Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Erica Garcia, MD: Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Judi Rehm: Medical College of Wisconsin

None to report.

None to report.


Callahan E, Garcia E, Rehm J. Talk louder? Communicating with your Spanish speaking patients. MedEdPORTAL. 2011;7:8427. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8427