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English is my second language. Will this make me a bad doctor?


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Paola’s Answer

Absolutely not! First of all, compassion and knowledge are more important, and secondly, think about all you could do to help patients who speak your language and have difficulty communicating with other healthcare providers. There is growing concern that the diversity of the population of the U.S. is growing rapidly, while the diversity of healthcare providers is not. Many patients do not receive appropriate care or do not even seek care in the first place because they are afraid of not being understood by doctors who don't speak their language. Having access to doctors who can speak to them in their native language could save their lives. This is known as linguistically competent care. I just wrote an entire book about this, to help people like you and I realize how much we are needed in this beautiful and diverse country, so I strongly encourage you to pursue your dream.

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Jeff! No I don't think so! It is great to speak another language and being bilingual will definitely help you in medicine. You can keep improving your English by speaking to others and reading books and just practicing. There are other physicians in the U.S. who are not native English speakers either but they have become good physicians! This should not discourage you ! I think, as mentioned above, it may be a bit difficult with examinations but as I have also said to keep practicing and be able to expand your vocabulary and grammar! If you'd like daily practice Duolingo is a great and useful app in practicing another language and it is free of charge, so if that interests you then definitely check it out!

Best of luck!

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Alexandre’s Answer

A good doctor is not the one who speaks fluent English, but the one who helps people. If medicine is your passion, I would encourage you to go for it. When I choose a doctor for myself or for my family, language is not something I care about.

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Richard’s Answer

No. Many physicians, especially in smaller towns, are not native English speakers. Lack of fluency in English will make exams including USMLE more difficult but you should still be able to communicate with patients. Some communities may even prefer a non-native speaker especially if you can speak Spanish here in Texas.

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Rahul’s Answer

English is my second language too, and it is a personal choice to ensure that you not just speak fluently in this language, but think in it too. My mother tongue is Hindi, and I am expected to converse with my patients in Hindi. But speaking chaste Hindi, does not imply that one cannot open oneself to the immense possibilities that the English language has to offer. In fact, every language that you learn gives you the chance to rewire your brain in a novel manner. Also, do not condescending to the vulgar vocabulary that might accompany your mother tongue. Do not become part of a vocabulary to prove that you are part of a herd, make your own individual space in this world.

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Estelle’s Answer

No, of course not. Just make sure that you can communicate clearly and effectively. Look people in the eye and listen to their responses to make sure that you are understanding each other very well.

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Riley’s Answer

Not necessarily! When attending undergraduate college and med school, you will need to do a lot of reading and writing. Whilst this will probably make college a little more challenging for you if you are able to get through all your classes, you will probably have become pretty proficient in English before you are actually a doctor. However, I think you should just keep practicing and working on perfecting your language skills so that it cannot hold you back in the future.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Jeff,

I don't think that it will. If anything, it will give you an added benefit being able to speak multiple languages.

Thanks,
Blake

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