Hola (translation: Hello)…jk! Thanks for joining me as I create these weekly Medical Spanish blogs/articles. Through these series of lessons, I hope to teach you new ways to communicate and connect with your Spanish-speaking patients. As we move forward, please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to cover. Eventually, I want to discuss full cases with you in Spanish!
A little about me: I’m a Family Med and Urgent Care PA. I’m Latina and fluent in Spanish. Growing up, I was often translating between English & Spanish for my parents at the doctor’s office (and basically everywhere else, ha!). My year of service in AmeriCorps was also spent translating for doctors/PAs in rural clinics. It wasn't until I rotated through different specialties in school, that I realized how rare Spanish speaking was amongst PAs/doctors/NPs! I often got asked to work on a case or round on more patients since I was able to directly speak with patients without the need for an interpreter. Being bilingual has opened up so many doors & got me plenty of interviews & job offers (FYI—I live in Los Angeles). Besides the marketability of being bilingual, it always brings me joy to connect with my patients in their native language—perhaps because I still see a little bit of my parents in each and every one! I’m excited to share my knowledge and help others learn something new or become more proficient. Let’s start, empecemos! :)
Hola, me llamo _____________. Yo soy _________
Hello, my name is ___________. I am a _______________
Spanish Term: Doctor (male) or Doctora (female)
Putting it together: Hola, me llamo Melody. Yo soy Doctora (female)
Translation: Hello, my name is Melody. I'm a doctor
Another common term is doctor is medico. This can be used for either men or women
Physician Assistant (PA)
Spanish Term: Asociado Medico (male or female)
Putting it together: Hola, me llamo Melody. Yo soy asociado medico
Translation: Hello, my name is Melody. I'm a PA
Most of these don’t require much of an explanation…except of course, PA! Why? Very few (if any) Latin American countries have an equivalent profession, which makes the translation a bit tricky. If you try to directly translate (ahem: google translate) “Physician Assistant” in Spanish, you may end up with something along the lines of “asistente medico” or “asistente de medico.” Most Spanish speaking patients will interpret this as “medical assistant.” So we’re left in a conundrum. What term do we use in order to correctly describe our profession & scope of practice without also misrepresenting ourselves as doctors or medical assistants?
Enter: The American Academy of PA’s (AAPA). In 1988, the AAPA House of Delegates voted and adopted the term “asociado medico” as the correct Spanish translation for PAs.
I will say, as a Spanish speaker, asociado medico sounds a bit off. The two terms should (technically) be reversed to remain grammatically correct. But, I suppose Asociado Medico was accepted so as to reduce further confusion. You see, medico asociado (the one that is more grammatically correct) may be misinterpreted to mean associate doctor or associate doctor to the practice. Haha, told you the translation is tricky!
Alas, no more confusion...I always go with the accepted AAPA term “asociado medico.” It is what I use on a daily basis & yes, most of the time it warrants more of an explanation.
Now, a lot of you with some Spanish background will ask…is asociado medico reserved only for the male gender? After all, its a masculine noun since it ends with an “o,” right? I have yet to find a concrete answer to this, but going back to my college Spanish class, my answer is: it used for both male and female PAs. Asociado medico refers to a profession and will have the same masculine and feminine form. Much in the same way that “el o la modelo” (male or female model) or “el o la psiquiatra" (male or female psychiatrist) will be used for both feminine and masculine forms despite their endings in "o" or "a."
Alright, enough of the boring Spanish explanations. Let's reiterate:
Correct Spanish translation for PA: Asociado medico
Incorrect Spanish translations for PA: doctor asistente, asistente medico, medico asistente..."assistant to the regional manager" (sorry that was an Office reference). But seriously, please don’t be that person who incorrectly introduces himself as a medical assistant!
Spanish Term: Enfermero (male) or Enfermera (female)
Putting it together: Hola, me llamo Melody, yo soy enfermera
Translation: Hello, my name is Melody. I'm a nurse
Spanish Term: Estudiante de medicine (male or female)
Putting it together: Hola me llamo Melody, soy estudiante de medicina
Translation: Hello, my name is Melody. I'm a medical student
Spanish Term: Estudiante de asociado medico (male or female)
Hola me llamo Melody. Soy estudiante de asociado medico
Translation: Hello, my name is Melody. I am a PA student
Spanish Term: Estudiante de enfermeria (male or female)
Putting it together: Hola me llamo Melody, soy estudiante de enfermeria
Translation: Hello, my name is Melody. I am a nursing student
Ok...lesson one complete! Did you learn anything new? Let me know your profession in Spanish below!