Skip to main content
Ray Munguia-Vasquez, MD, PhD, and Cecilia Isabel Tenoria, MA, share details on the Care of Hispanic and Latino Patients Scholarly Concentration, in which students improve care for Hispanic and Latino patients by learning and applying culturally appropriate medical care, and improving their Spanish-speaking fluency.

In their words: Scholarly Concentration Q&A with Care of Hispanic and Latino Patients co-directors

map shows location of the latino patient care concentration in west lafayette

In 2019, IU School of Medicine launched Scholarly Concentrations. To help students decide if a concentration topic is the right fit, concentration co-directors shared the inside scoop—from why they got involved in the concentration to how a specific topic can help students reach their goals.

Topic: Care of Hispanic and Latino Patients
Location: West Lafayette
Co-directors: Raymundo Munguia-Vazquez, MD, PhD and Cecilia Isabel Tenoria, MA

Introduce yourself. Who are you and why did you decide to become involved in this Scholarly Concentration topic?

Raymundo Munguia-Vazquez, MD, PhD: I am currently a clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at IU School of Medicine-West Lafayette and in the Speech-Language and Hearing Sciences department at Purdue University. Since January 2013, I have taught courses in advanced electrophysiology, auditory and vestibular pathology, research, and medical audiology. I am developing my research program to understand better how the auditory cortex adapts and responds to different pathological conditions such as auditory processing disorders (ADP) and sensorineural hearing loss, as well as in tinnitus and hearing loss following mild traumatic brain injuries. The primary goal of this research is to establish, with the aid of electrophysiological recordings, new protocols for early diagnosis and intervention in individuals with these disorders.

Cecilia Isabel Tenorio, MA: I am the Director of the minor in Spanish for the Professions at Purdue University, where I have worked for over 20 years. I have designed and taught courses in Medical Spanish, Translation and Interpreting, and Advanced Spanish Language and Culture, among others. I am a nationally certified translator and legal interpreter. During my whole career, whether in Buenos Aires, México, New York, Miami, or Indiana, I have been involved in education, journalism, or consulting regarding the Spanish language and Spanish speaking communities. Through “Service Learning” projects my students have volunteered at the Purdue health clinics, the YWCA Domestic Abuse program, health fairs, and other endeavors that involved getting to know and interacting with the local Latino population. Besides my professional experience, I also have the “life” experience of growing up in Latin America, where I learned first-hand that science-based knowledge can coexist with traditional beliefs and practices. I became involved in this scholarly concentration because I am a firm believer in improving health care through better communication between the different sectors of the population. Learning another language and culture not only allows you to bridge the gap with a specific group, but also to question and reflect on your own beliefs and assumptions.

What are you most excited about in regards to Scholarly Concentrations and/or your concentration topic?

Medical education on West Lafayette campus

Munguia: My interest in this Scholarly Concentration program comes from the fact that I identify myself as part of this minority group (i.e. Latino). Because I am in constant contact with this community, I understand the problems and limitations that they face in the clinical setting everyday.

Tenorio: I love the Spanish language and the culture of the 20 countries that speak it and that constitute the heritage of the Hispanic population in the US. With so many dialects, cultures and national identities, there are endless topics for discussion and research. I have never stopped learning and I see the scholarly concentration on the care of Hispanic patients as an opportunity to share what I know, as much as to learn from our students and from members of the Hispanic community. I will provide options for students to work on their research projects, but I am also enthusiastic and open to new ideas that they will bring to the concentration. It will be an exciting journey!


What are the two or three most important or interesting things students should know about this concentration?

The main core of the Care of Hispanic/Latino Patients scholarly concentration program is to address three main components: cultural competency; special issues in communication; and medical Spanish fluency. We want to develop students’ listening and speaking abilities through the acquisition of specialized medical vocabulary and other concepts regarding patient communication.

How is this concentration beneficial to a student’s personal and professional goals?

Not only will students have the opportunity to practice their oral skills, but also learn about and discuss the demographic component, cultural background, and health practices of the Hispanic population in the United States.

Some students may have a hard time deciding which concentration to choose. How can a student decide if this topic is the best fit for them?

Students will be required to complete courses onsite in Introduction to Hispanic/Latino patient care that includes modules on vocabulary, communication, and cultural competency in providing care for Hispanic/Latino patients, online modules in fundamentals of research and scholarship, and an introduction to public health. Topics of interest will be assigned for discussion during scheduled recitation sessions. The main purpose of the recitation sessions will be verbal communication practice. These sessions will be scheduled and conducted in Spanish with a faculty member from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, School of Languages and Culture, at Purdue University who specializes in Spanish for medical professionals. While the focus of these sessions is verbal language development, topics to be discussed will focus on topics covered in the onsite modules.

You provided some examples of project topics for this concentration. Can you also provide some more details and examples of what one or two different projects could look like?

One of the potential projects in this program is cultural differences in patient care strategies between American and Mexican academic medical centers. Students will be exposed to a variety of issues applicable to Hispanic/Latino patients including informational sessions on cultural competency, patient-centered communication, case-based scenarios, and public health issues for Hispanic/Latino patients. Resources will include presentations by local and regional experts, and live-streamed grand rounds with a medical center in Mexico. The sessions will be conducted in English, although some instruction in medical Spanish may be included.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Default Author Avatar IUSM Logo

IU School of Medicine

With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across nine campuses and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, Indiana University School of Medicine is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.