To do your job as a first responder effectively, you need to be able to communicate with the people you’re trying to help, or with someone who can communicate on their behalf. But what if the patient or their loved ones speak only Spanish, and you don’t know the language? From Texas to Illinois and from New York to California, the numbers of Spanish-speaking people are steadily increasing. Those four states, in addition to Florida and New Jersey, have some of the highest populations of Spanish speakers in the United States. However, they are just part of a larger trend throughout the country. Consider these facts:

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 60.5 million Hispanic people live in the U.S., a number that will continue to increase in coming decades.
  • There are currently more Spanish speakers living in the U.S. than there are in Spain.
  • By 2050, the U.S. is expected to have about 132.8 million Spanish speakers, outnumbering Mexico.

What does all this mean to you as a paramedic or EMT? Risk or opportunity, depending on your level of Spanish proficiency. Considering that the Spanish language will continue to proliferate in the country, knowing English alone isn’t enough. The inability to converse in a second language can make a critical difference in providing appropriate care with certainty, which means it will become as important a job skill as knowing how to perform CPR.

Let’s put that risk into real numbers.

Risk: Contributing to a Staggering Statistic

Are you willing to accept the risk that you may not be able to understand 8% of your patients? Data attributed to the U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 25 million Americans—approximately 330 million people—have limited English proficiency. According to data from The Joint Commission, communication errors are a primary factor in almost 60% of problematic incidents that occur within healthcare facilities. It’s easy to see how language barriers can lead to tragedy in an emergency situation. Would you minimize the risk if you could by learning a second language?

Opportunity: Becoming More Valuable to Patients and Employers

Having the ability to communicate with a greater number of patients has many benefits for you and all parties involved:

  • You gain the ability to bond with and solicit cooperation from patients and their loved ones.
  • You can get a better picture of a patient’s health before the emergency call, including any preexisting conditions.
  • You’re able to help a patient avoid additional complications.
  • You possess a skill that makes you more valuable to current and potential employers.
  • You help your employer avoid legal action by reducing costly mistakes.
  • Patients receive critical treatment in a timely manner.
  • Patients receive correct medications in the appropriate dosages.
  • Patients are more satisfied with their experience.

A Spanish Program Created Specifically for First Responders

The University of Texas Permian Basin is helping to answer the growing need for Spanish-speaking emergency service providers with our online Certificate in Spanish for First Responders. Created to help healthcare professionals better serve the growing Spanish-speaking population, our 9-credit program provides instruction in translating the medical terminology you use every day into Spanish, enabling you to ask questions and explain to Spanish speakers what type of treatment you’re providing. You’ll build your proficiency in Spanish through virtual conversations that mirror real-life exchanges between Spanish-speaking patients and emergency personnel.

This certificate is made up of three online courses led by the same renowned professors who teach Spanish courses at the UT Permian Basin campus. These acknowledged authorities will instruct you not just on the Spanish language, but on contextual topics that will help you better understand your patients. Under their guidance, you’ll explore Spanish from multiple perspectives, including:

  • Culture
  • Grammar
  • History
  • Syntax
  • Vocabulary

Our Certificate in Spanish for First Responders is available to you as a stand-alone online program or can be added to an existing degree program, should you wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree from UT Permian Basin.

Learning Online Means Learning on Your Schedule

Your job and family commitments are very important to you, but you needn’t neglect them to learn new career-enhancing skills. Our Certificate in Spanish for First Responders program is delivered in a 100% online asynchronous format that allows you to choose both the time and place to complete your coursework. On a break from work, after you put the kids to bed, on weekends—if the time is good for you and you have internet access, our program is ready and waiting. This unmatched flexibility makes earning an important professional credential incredibly convenient.

You’re only three courses away from being able to offer more effective care for an increasing number of patients. Apply to our online Certificate in Spanish for First Responders program now and make an even bigger difference in their lives!