After working for several years as a pediatrician in his native Ireland, Dr. Peter McCarthy decided to spend time volunteering at a hospital in Lima, Peru. First, however, he needed to learn Spanish in Peru and familiarize himself with the Peruvian health care system. Participating in AMAUTA’s Medical Spanish Program in Cusco gave him the perfect preparation. He learnt Spanish quickly and got familiarized with Peru.
With no previous knowledge of Spanish, Peter began with to learn Spanish for beginners in the Spanish group classes in Cusco. In these Spanish classes he learned the basic building blocks of Spanish grammar, a foundation he would later build on as his course progressed. Interacting with professors and other students on a regular basis, he became more comfortable with using Spanish to discuss normal, every-day situations, problems, and questions.
In his third week, he began the Medical Spanish shadowing program. Three afternoons a week he took individual Spanish classes and learnt more specialized Medical Spanish. The other afternoons he spent doing hands-on work in collaboration with local doctors and clinics – all while continuing with Spanish group classes four hours a day!
Peter’s experience with the medical Spanish course included “the full range of Spanish language opportunities and instruction.” With his professor, Peter became familiar with “specific introduction in medical vocabulary, doctor-patient interaction”. He learned practice tips and general information regarding medical practice in Latin American countries.
Peter further learned about Peruvian traditional medicine and its continuing role in Peruvian medicinal practice today. He summarized his experience by stating, “the structure of the medical Spanish lessons in Cusco were ideal. They allowed me to focus on the areas I wanted to, and allowed time for individual feedback and role plays.”
This knowledge and practice not only gave him a solid foundation for his medical shadowing. It also gave him the confidence to interact with his patients at the various projects and clinics he visited. During his shadowing hours he spent a morning in the mountains outside of Cusco. There he worked with mothers and children on any health issues they had.
He also mentioned his last day shadowing as one of the highlights of his entire experience as the doctor with whom he worked was extremely conversational, asking his opinion, getting his advice, and explaining anything new that Peter encountered.
In an interview on Peter’s last day here, he mentioned that he thinks this program is perfect for anyone in the medical field who want to learn Spanish. And especially those planning to spend some time working or volunteering in Peru, as the program is adaptable and tailored to meet individuals’ needs, interests, and abilities.
His advice to others interested in the Medical Spanish course is two-fold. First, determine what your priorities are, and work with the staff and teachers to achieve the goal. Second, be flexible! In closing, Peter was incredibly enthusiastic about his classes and his hands-on experience and “couldn’t recommend AMAUTA highly enough.”
Interested in our Medical Spanish Program in Peru?
Contact AMAUTA Spanish School for more info.