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Many doctors use limited Spanish skills with patients

Reuters, June 15, 2012

Many doctors-in-training with shaky Spanish skills are willing to discuss medical care with their patients in Spanish—but that may change after they are tested for fluency, a new study suggests. Researchers surveyed 76 pediatric residents and found 64 percent were willing to use Spanish with their patients. That number fell to 51 percent after they were evaluated on their Spanish skills—a difference due to fewer non-proficient speakers using the language after testing. Previous studies have shown residents often use their subpar second-language skills to talk with patients, the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics.