Spanish Minor Robby Brock ‘22 shares the human impact of using Spanish in healthcare
Robby Brock ‘22 graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Biology and Neuroscience, and a minor in Spanish Studies. He shares his thoughts on using Spanish after graduation.
“‘A little bit is a whole lot more than nothing.’ This was the most important lesson I learned when minoring in Spanish at Santa Clara University.
After graduation, I began working as a scribe at the Regional Medical Center in San Jose. At our facility, we have access to remote interpreters who can provide audio translation. They are absolutely vital to ensuring patients from all language backgrounds can receive their medical care. Still, there is something special about speaking with someone face to face, especially about a topic as personal as one’s health. I was able to see this difference firsthand when I began to apply my Spanish skills at work.
My Spanish abilities are certainly not at the level of a native speaker, so I was hesitant to offer translation instead of just calling up the interpreter. Did I really have much to offer? It was then that I thought back on my classes at SCU. I was always encouraged to give my best effort and speak the language as much as possible. With that, I decided that I would offer to translate for our Spanish-speaking patients.
Immediately, I could see the impact of speaking to patients directly. It allows them to let their guard down and feel heard. It’s particularly appreciated by our older patients who often have a hard time hearing the interpreter in a noisy emergency department. I still have my language hiccups, and I will often use the interpreters as an aid for a patient who is more difficult to understand. However, seeing the relief on a patient’s face when they realize that they can talk to me instead of a faceless computer screen is priceless. In a setting as stressful as the emergency department, any bit of familiarity and comfort goes a long way. I’m so grateful to have an opportunity to use what I learned at SCU to help our patients feel more at home. I highly recommend that students consider a major or minor so that they can connect with the Spanish speakers around them too. You might be surprised at how far a bit of Spanish can go!”