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Medical Spanish/Latino Health Elective (MSLHE)

Why be a part of the elective?

The goal of the elective is to prepare medical students both linguistically and culturally to serve the Latino population in the United States and abroad.

What is it?

A longitudinal experience for medical students, the elective includes the following components:

  • An online Medical Spanish course called “Canopy,” which includes instruction on not only grammar but medical vocabulary.
  • An intensive July course in between the first and second years.  This meets every morning during the summer.  Students do have time for other experiences during this summer, including research and community service such as the Urban Health Project.
  • Simulated Spanish Patient Experiences (SSPEs), where native Spanish-speaking actors play patients, and students have the opportunity to practice their history and exam skills, in Spanish and hear accents and vocabulary from around the Spanish-speaking world.
  • An evening seminar series on Wednesday evenings throughout the school year, focusing on specific cultural issues, such as immigration, mental health, and intimate partner violence.
  • Spanish conversation groups, led by second year medical students.
  • A variety of service-learning experiences in the Cincinnati Latino community at health fairs, free clinics, and other agencies.

When is the elective?

Medical students enter in January of their first year and graduate from the elective at the end of the third year.  Students receive four weeks of fourth year elective credit.

Who can apply and how?

Any first-year medical student in good standing may apply.  While not a requirement, preference is given to students who have previous course work or experience speaking Spanish, or working with Spanish-speaking communities.  Applications are sent out to all first-year students and an information session is held in November of each year.  Applications are due in December, and students are typically informed of their acceptance in January of each year.

Who can I contact for more information?

Contact the course director, Christy O’Dea, MD for more information at

Do you want to improve your Spanish?

Click here to access Suggested Medical Spanish Resources in Cincinnati.

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