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Bilingual Medicine

Bilingual Medicine
By France Griggs Sloat

The first student to go through the nursing department’s Hispanic concentration took her education to the streets of Costa Rica. What better way to practice your profession and your passion at the same time?

That’s what Jessica Montrie was thinking when she signed up for the International Volunteer Program, which sent her to Heredia and San Jose in the Central American country for six weeks this summer. Jessica and fellow nursing graduate Erin McCafferty paid for the chance to live with host families, volunteer in an orphanage and an AIDS clinic, and take Spanish language classes while immersed in the culture. It was cheaper than moving to Spain for the summer to learn the language, and their résumés look all the better for it.

“My great-grandpa was born in Mexico, so I’ve always had an interest in learning Spanish,” says Montrie, who lived in Spain for three weeks after high school. “I fell in love with Spanish culture.”

Both graduates plan to practice bilingual nursing, and while McCafferty is now working at the Cleveland Clinic, Montrie’s first job is at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, where she’ll have plenty of chances to practice her recently honed language skills. The Cincinnati area’s Hispanic population has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, which means more sick Spanish-speaking children will need her translating skills at the hospital.

Eventually armed with a medical translating license, she may find the Spanish culture she’s in love with is right here at home.

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