Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Language immersion

Earlier I promised I would talk more about the pharmacy, and I got first-hand experience today. Up until today, I had been mostly lurking around with the camera, trying to stay out of the way. Today, I jumped right into the fray and I counseled patients on how to take their medications (that's me in the last photo). I knew very little Spanish before this trip, and even now, I mainly know greetings, a few commands, and numbers (even then, I had to cheat a peek or two at my phrasebook). I read aloud the instructions for the patient and made sure they understand them. By the end of the day, I was actually understanding what I was saying, and could almost understand some of their responses.

After a student sees a patient, he or she will write the diagnoses on the form, as well as their recommendations for medication. The patient is led to the pharmacy where they are given a number. A PharmD will review the form and fill it or substitute based on what is available. They put the form and the medications in a basket with a number, and a volunteer such as myself or Beth will call out the number and bring the basket to the patient and review the instructions with them, just in case they can't read. The unique challenge today was that some of them spoke a Mayan dialect, not Spanish, which made the language barrier even more pronounced. In that case, we would call over a translator to help us.


  1. Cortney, thanks for the play by play. I knew there was some genius structure at work if you were seeing hundreds of patients in mere hours.

  2. Very interesting. I can believe by the end of the day you'd start to pick up the language.