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Languages for Medical Doctors?

 Language Learning Forum : Languages & Work Post Reply
23 messages over 3 pages: 1 2 3  Next >>
Matthew12
Newbie
United States
Joined 2511 days ago

13 posts - 20 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, German

 
 Message 1 of 23
30 April 2013 at 3:44am | IP Logged 
I want to become a doctor, and I am trying to figure out which languages would be beneficial towards this area of science (I'm either going to be a neurologist or cardiologist, something of that nature). My native language is English and I'm learning Spanish in school and German on my own, but are there any other languages that could be helpful to a doctor? And I don't mean studying Greek or Latin because that's where a lot of medical terms come from. For instance, there are a lot of Spanish speakers in America so if you lived in America and practiced medicine, it might be good to learn Spanish as well as English. See what I'm getting at? Thanks in advance for answering! (By the way, this applies to living in America, because I don't know if I want to be a doctor abroad).

Edited by Fasulye on 18 June 2013 at 10:34am

2 persons have voted this message useful



Lemberg1963
Bilingual Diglot
Groupie
United States
zamishka.blogspot.coRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2425 days ago

41 posts - 82 votes 
Speaks: English*, Ukrainian*
Studies: French, German, Spanish, Polish

 
 Message 2 of 23
30 April 2013 at 4:09am | IP Logged 
I'm in a similar situation, I just finished my premed requirements and am going to
apply next year. I'm looking at emergency medicine so I've done some research on this.

German is useful for research, although most research will be published in English
anyway. In terms of clinical care, after the obvious Spanish, there is a large variety
and will depend on where you live. In California Chinese and Vietnamese are common.
Around Boston there are many Portuguese speakers, admittance rate for Lusophones there
is actually higher than for Hispanophones. In the New York area, where I'm from, you
would expect Chinese or Russian to be the largest population after Spanish speakers but
it actually varies between hospitals. Depending on the neighborhood there are hospitals
where French, Polish and even Japanese speakers outnumber the Chinese and Russians.

Short answer, master Spanish. After that it really depends on the region, and
considering the competitiveness of medical school and residencies, it's unlikely that
you'd be able to predict where you'll be going.
3 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3195 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 3 of 23
30 April 2013 at 4:53am | IP Logged 
I study medicine but the language situation is very different in Europe.

About the research published in English: majority of research by natives of small
languages is primarily published in English. It is not entirely true about the French
or German researchers. It sometimes takes time before their results are published in
English as well or at least before there is as much to read about it in English as in
the original language.

During your studies, you could find some German or French ressources useful but you can
surely live without them as you have the huge English based library at hand. What you
might consider more are opportunities to study abroad. There is Erasmus Mundus and
similar programs which allow students to spend a semester or two in another country,
experiencing another university, hospital and health care system. There is the
international organisation of medical students (IFMSA) which organises one month long
stays during summer all over the world. These are in English but it is always handy to
understand the local language.

Lemberg is probably right about your future patients in the USA. Spanish seems to be
the number one choice. Therefore it may be interesting to use the opportunities to
study in Mexico or another Latin American country for a semester or spend there the
summer month in hospital. But you should be ready for those opportunities.
2 persons have voted this message useful



hrhenry
Octoglot
Senior Member
United States
languagehopper.blogs
Joined 3316 days ago

1871 posts - 3641 votes 
Speaks: English*, SpanishC2, ItalianC2, Norwegian, Catalan, Galician, Turkish, Portuguese
Studies: Polish, Indonesian, Ojibwe

 
 Message 4 of 23
30 April 2013 at 7:47am | IP Logged 
To give you a idea of what's possible, I suppose you could look into the languages that
Doctors Without Borders use.

Their website states that they operate in 70 different countries, so that's a healthy
number of languages from which to choose.

R.
==
5 persons have voted this message useful



fireballtrouble
Triglot
Senior Member
Turkey
Joined 2710 days ago

129 posts - 202 votes 
Speaks: Turkish*, French, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 5 of 23
30 April 2013 at 1:03pm | IP Logged 
I'm also studying in medicine and I think English is definitively enough for a researcher
doctor. OK, I admit that Germany and France do lots of scientific researches but their
international texts are already published in English. So, if you become a doctor in the
US and work there, when you correspond with a French colleague in France, you two will
probably write in English.
Need for French, German or Spanish is useful if you are about to work in a country where
those languages are spoken or in local areas where native people live in the US.
For Russian and Chinese, even these 2 are widely spoken, I dont see professional
benefits. Because Russia and China are in general closed and unlikely to accept
international students/doctors for long term.

1 person has voted this message useful



Medulin
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Croatia
Joined 2854 days ago

1199 posts - 2192 votes 
Speaks: Croatian*, English, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Norwegian, Hindi, Nepali

 
 Message 6 of 23
30 April 2013 at 1:41pm | IP Logged 
Here in Croatia, English is the only language doctors need to know. (Well, along with Latin, since diagnoses are still written in Latin, less so in psychiatry but in all other fields they are).
We used many British and American books in medical school (in English mainly, since new editions in English are so quickly released/updated, and translators and editors cannot keep up with the pace), for example, golden classics: Harper's biochemistry, Guyton's physiology, Robbins' pathology, Harrison's internal medicine etc...
Scientific research articles and summaries, are all in English.
PUBMED and MEDSCAPE are in English.

Research in my medical field (psychiatry) is done according to American standards (following DSMV), and not according to WHO standards (this is how it's done everywhere in the world). German used to be the language of psychiatry 50 years ago, but this no longer the case (Psychotherapy and psychiatry in Germany are in a sad shape these days, with only a handful options available, compared to the UK/US, although the situation in Austria and Switzerland is somewhat better: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychotherapie#Psychotherapieve rfahren ).

Edited by Medulin on 30 April 2013 at 1:55pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Medulin
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Croatia
Joined 2854 days ago

1199 posts - 2192 votes 
Speaks: Croatian*, English, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Norwegian, Hindi, Nepali

 
 Message 7 of 23
30 April 2013 at 1:57pm | IP Logged 
hrhenry wrote:
To give you a idea of what's possible, I suppose you could look into the languages that
Doctors Without Borders use.

Their website states that they operate in 70 different countries, so that's a healthy
number of languages from which to choose.

R.
==


In Brazil, Doctors without borders use only Brazilian Portuguese, since their work in Brazil is restricted to doctors with Brazilian citizenship. No foreign (that is non-Brazilian) doctors allowed. This restriction was imposed by the Brazilian government, in order to protect Amerindians.

Edited by Medulin on 30 April 2013 at 2:13pm

1 person has voted this message useful



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 4415 days ago

693 posts - 1328 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 8 of 23
30 April 2013 at 5:50pm | IP Logged 
As an MD in the US I can attest that the most useful language aside from English is Spanish followed by Spanish
and then Spanish. You may even want to pick up some Spanish....    It blows me away how few MDs in the US can
speak ANY Spanish. Learn Spanish and learn it well. Your time will not be wasted!

As far as other languages, as others have pointed out, it really depends on your geography. On the West coast
any Asian language would serve you well. There seem to be more and more Arabic speakers out here as well. I
know several groups in San Francisco who specifically need Cantonese and/or Mandarin speakers. The LA area
has a notable Armenian and Iranian population. I have heard that in Texas, Burmese, Vietnamese and Indian
languages are widely spoken. The upper Midwest has communities of Hmong, Cambodian and Somali
immigrants. Portuguese has become huge around the Boston area. I did my residency in Springfield Mass and
on a daily basis, I could count on hearing Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Russian and Vietnamese. One
evening a patient was in the ER who only spoke Finnish and Hungarian!   

I wouldn't learn Latin or Classical Greek specifically to use them in medicine, however, after medical school you
will be surprised how much Latin and Greek you know!

Also, don't limit yourself to a specialty choice this early on! Some MDs (like me) don't figure out what they want to
do until they are out practicing medicine for a while! Learn all aspects of all medical specialties well. You can
always specialize down the road. I'm not sure how old you are, but you should volunteer in clinics and hospitals
with docs as much as possible. Not only will you start building connections that can help you down the road, but
you might figure out that Medicine really isn't your cup of tea. (some colleagues don't realize this until they have
put in years of work and have a six-figure debt to pay off!!)

Edited by liddytime on 30 April 2013 at 5:58pm



5 persons have voted this message useful



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