Language Opportunities
A group of students in a classroom

Connecting Through Conversation

Several language opportunities are available to Michigan medical students.

Medicine in Spanish Elective

The intermediate Medical Spanish elective aims to strengthen students’ confidence in common patient interactions by focusing on useful phrases to interview and perform a physical exam in Spanish. Additionally, this course focuses on cultural competency and health issues that Hispanic/Latinx patients face. Medicine in Spanish also offers an Casos Clínicos course for those students who are native or advanced proficiency speakers or those who have already taken the intermediate course. It is a case-based discussion of particular diseases and the clinical thinking necessary to develop a diagnosis. There is also a Beginner Med Spanish Seminar Series that focuses on learning health care-related vocabulary and how to work with interpreters
(no prerequisites or prior experience necessary).

Medicine in Mandarin Elective

Medicine in Mandarin is offered as an elective course to help students develop the language skills needed to effectively interact with patients in Mandarin. Students with intermediate to advanced knowledge of spoken Mandarin are invited to apply to take this course. Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of a short essay, oral assessment and established commitment to working with Mandarin-speaking patients in their careers. Approximately 10 students are selected for this course each year.

American Sign Language Elective

The American Sign Language (ASL) elective is a one-credit course for first-year medical students to learn basic ASL and explore topics of Deaf culture and health disparities specific to the Deaf and hard of hearing population. The course will be taught by a qualified ASL instructor. The class will meet online for one hour, two times per week, for a total of 10 weeks. Students do not need to know any ASL to enroll.

Medical French Student Organization 

The Medical French student organization consists of a group of French-speaking medical students and residents who are seeking to improve their language skills in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Group members are at a variety of levels, though some prior experience is recommended. Four to five formal Medical French lectures will be offered per year to cover basic terminology that will benefit patient interactions in numerous specialties. Additional bimonthly social gatherings allow members to practice their French freely with their peers. The organization is also looking to establish partnerships with interpreter services and community health clinics for French-speakers to volunteer their skills with patients face-to-face. 

Medical Arabic Organization

Medical Arabic at the University of Michigan aims to help future and current healthcare providers and physicians develop the basic spoken Arabic language skills needed to communicate effectively with Arabic speaking patients. The group is dedicated to helping participants provide culturally competent and sensitive health care by hosting lecture series and journal clubs focused on the Arab American experience. A lecture series to teach physicians and medical providers Arabic spoken language and traditions. Learn to speak Arabic is a 10-lecture series that will teach physicians and medical providers (1) basic spoken Arabic language skills and (2) Arab cultural and religious traditions that impact health care. All lectures are intended for medical students, physicians, and other Michigan Medicine staff with no prior knowledge of the language. The aim is to improve healthcare for our Arabic-speaking patients at Michigan Medicine.

A group of people holding an award block M
You might be interested in:

Global REACH: Students, professor team up to launch Medicine in Spanish course

Read article