[lg policy] LPPI study recommends med school students study underrepresented languages

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sun Sep 30 14:40:22 EDT 2018

LPPI study recommends med school students study underrepresented languages
By Melissa Morris <http://dailybruin.com/author/melissa-morris/>
Posted: September 28, 2018 1:03 am
News <http://dailybruin.com/category/news/>, Science & Health
[image: (Mavis Zeng/Assistant Graphics editor)]

(Mavis Zeng/Assistant Graphics editor)

UCLA researchers investigated the consequences of language mismatch that
occurs when physicians and patients cannot speak the same language.

Researchers from the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative analyzed
California census data in a study released earlier this month to gather
evidence and develop policy solutions to address the shortage of
Spanish-speaking physicians in California.

LPPI director Sonja Diaz said in a press release Latinos are going to
college at higher rates than ever before, but fewer are graduating from
California medical schools than in 1980.

There are 62.1 Spanish-speaking physicians per 100,000 Spanish-speaking
Californians, compared to 344.2 physicians for English-speakers, according
to the study. Southeast Asian languages, including Tagalog, Thai and
Vietnamese are also underrepresented.

David Hayes-Bautista, a professor of health policy and management who
authored the study, said Californians with limited English proficiency have
worse health outcomes in areas including access to care, health status and
patient safety.

He added his work with underserved communities informed his personal
understanding of how a common language affects health outcomes.

“I’m a great believer that everyone should have best access to healthcare,
and language is part of that access,” Hayes-Bautista said. “It’s a social
justice issue, quite frankly.”

Hayes-Bautista is also the director of the Center for the Study of Latino
Health and Culture at the UCLA School of Medicine.

Arturo Bustamante, an associate professor of health policy and management
affiliated with the study, said a lack of communication between physicians
and patients ultimately harms patients because of unconscious biases and a
diminished sense of trust.

Bustamante also said physicians are rewarded for being trained in narrow,
lucrative specialties, and not for providing more general services to
underserved communities. He added he thinks medical schools should consider
reforming to increase the number of well-rounded physicians in underserved

“Many of the first-year grads from med school don’t find incentives to
pursue a career in underserved areas,” Bustamante said. “We need medical
school, training and career tracks that train physicians that have skills
to work in other areas.”

The study suggests potentially changing medical school admissions to
include underrepresented language skills as part of their criteria.

Hayes-Bautista noted with such large applicant pools, medical schools could
afford to add proficiency in underrepresented languages to admissions

Theodore Hall, associate dean for admissions at the David Geffen School of
Medicine, said in an emailed statement the school does not have a language
proficiency requirement beyond effective English communication skills, but
encourages applicants to consider learning Spanish because of a large
Latino patient population they will likely encounter in their careers.

Dennis added changes to admissions criteria, such as the inclusion of a
language requirement, must be vetted by the Admissions Policy and Oversight
Committee and confirmed by the Faculty Executive Committee.

Hayes-Bautista added that learning a language is a decision anyone can make.

“Anybody can learn to speak one of those (underrepresented) languages. I
have a four-year-old grandson; he speaks Spanish perfectly well,”
Hayes-Bautista said. “It’s not impossible.”

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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