SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION: CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING VIA STUDY ABROAD AND SERVICE PROJECT IN THE ARE OF HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS

G. Helguero-Balcells

Florida Atlantic University / Walden University (UNITED STATES)
What has become apparent in the dealing with the influx of immigrants, not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world, there is a necessity of those in the health care profession to gain yet another skill – cultural understanding. Those in that field should add to their healing skills, that of a second language and cultural understanding of their future patients or current ones. Placing this further requirement on those in field, even if it is deemed a burden, will enhance and humanize the future professional or even those in the field already. The emphasis in both nursing and medical school is the dealing with diseases and how to alleviate suffering, where there is a gap now is that there is at times a linguistic and cultural misunderstanding between the health care provider and the patient along with their family. In order to rectify this acquisition of a second language that meets the needs of the demographic population where they are practicing is imperative. In conjunction with this is the cultural awareness of the protocol that builds the relationship which is critical when dealing with certain cultures. To achieve this there needs to be second language acquisition coupled with an experience of studying abroad and attending to a service project to gain the cultural elements that can only be seen via this experience. Medicine is universal but there are techniques and protocols that differ from country to country. Gaining these skills is a life lesson that will enhance their professional expertise. This paper will discuss and illustrate how it can be done and techniques that can be implemented to accomplish these skills – another language and cultural sensitivity.