Spanish for Nurses - Resources and Reviews

Medical Spanish Pocket: Spanish for Medical Professionals

Are you a nurse in the Unites States, or plan on traveling to a primarily Spanish-speaking country to practice nursing? If so, having a convenient guide to help you speak and interpret Spanish can be a life saver. Even if you are fairly fluent in Spanish, something like a Spanish pocket book could save you a lot of stress and frustration down the road.

Fortunately, there are many different resources out there to help nurses brush up on their Spanish. Some are more comprehensive, with the most comprehensive being a full-on Spanish class. However, for many nurses, taking a Spanish class may be a bit more than is needed, and in this case, some sort of study guide could do the trick just fine.

Spanish Medical Conversation (Quick Study Academic)

The company that created this guide, BarCharts Inc., have lots of other similar resources for nurses that we have highlighted in other articles as well. The main goal of charts like this is to serve as a reminder and a quickly-accessible resource for the most common pieces of related information. In this case, they focus on basic phrases (like a pediatric stethoscope or medical scissors) and keywords that can help nurses communicate with patients in Spanish more effectively.

While this chart is a little too big to carry around with you on shift (it’s about 11 inches tall), it can be easily placed somewhere for reference, or posted on a wall or bulletin board in an area that you are frequently present in (maybe the break room?). That being said, if you decide that you want it to be on a wall, it may be best ordering two of the same charts simply because it is double-sided. They are extremely cheap, usually under $10, so this isn’t totally out of the question.

The layout of this Spanish for Nurses chart is pretty nice, as they break down the terminology into categories based on regions of the body (front), as well as general condition (back). In terms of critical comments, it would be nice if they included more gastroenterology terms, as well as more anatomical terms in general, but we recognize there is only a certain amount of space available!

Overall, this guide can serve as an excellent reminder of Spanish terminology and phrases for nurses. It is extremely cheap, and while it’s not super thorough, it gives you some of the most important and common information you will need to know, and it’s a convenient enough size that you can leave it at work or keep it at home, and you never need to spend time sifting through pages to find what you’re looking for. Great bang-for-your-buck!

Spanish for Health Care Professionals (Barron's Foreign Language Guides)

This Spanish for nurses resource, entitled Spanish for Health Care Professionals, is much more comprehensive than the chart we reviewed above. The size and amount of information in this book is more similar to a textbook than a chart, but at the same time, it’s much more reader-friendly than a textbook, so don’t be worried about the approximate 280 page length!

At first, when quickly flipping through the pages, I thought this book looked a little overwhelming, but upon taking a closer look, it’s actually really well organized and reader-friendly. It’s broken down into 11 chapters (not including other categories), and it has an interesting semi-chronological sequence. For example, after the first few chapters with more general information (e.g. Ch.1 – General Information, Ch.2 – The Patient, Ch.3 – Admissions, Ch.4 – Accidents), the chapters begin to progress chronologically in terms of patient age, from Ch.5 – Pregnancy all the way to Ch.9 – The Elderly, finally ending with Ch.11 – Patient Discharge.

The main critical comment about this Spanish for Health Care Professionals book are the audio CDs it comes with. They are meant to help you hear the pronunciation of the words, as well as study/reinforce the material from the book, but most people find the CD’s highly annoying. For example, when simply providing the English word, followed by the Spanish word, there are long time gaps between the words, and an annoying beep after the word is spoken in Spanish.

Overall, aside from the CDs, this book is a great resource to help nurses with Spanish. Please keep in mind that there is another similar book published by McGraw-Hill entitled Spanish for Health Care Providers, which is also helpful, but the Harvey book we reviewed here is just a little more focused, allowing you to learn and retain the information much more quickly.

Medical Spanish Pocket: Spanish for Medical Professionals

The Medical Spanish Pocket Book is an excellent Spanish guide for nurses. It’s basically a combination of the QuickStudy Chart and the Spanish for Health Care Professionals book we reviewed above. It’s small enough to fit into the pockets of most scrubs, yet it’s still quite comprehensive. In fact, a couple customers have mentioned it was more comprehensive than they thought, which is both good and bad. On the plus side, you get a lot of information in a small package, so you can work through it on your own time as well. On the negative side, if you need to reference something really quickly on the fly, it could be a little difficult at first while you are still a little unfamiliar with the entire book.

A lot of nurses and other health care professionals have found this book exceptionally great for traveling. Those who need to spend some time working overseas find it to be a great travel size, yet still comprehensive enough that they don’t need to purchase other similar books when they reach their destination.

The main critical comment of this book is that most people find it best suited to individuals who already have some exposure to Spanish. For example, high school Spanish classes, or some sort of experience working in a setting fluent in the Spanish language. That’s not to say you can’t receive many benefits from owning this book; however, it may be a little more difficult to quickly reference the material on the fly if you don’t already have a very basic foundation in Spanish.

Overall, this is an excellent Spanish pocket book for nurses and other health care professionals. It’s very comprehensive for the size, can be great to have with you on the job, and assuming you have a very basic knowledge base in Spanish already, is great as a quick-reference resource on the fly.

Spanish Medical Dictionary:: Spanish-English English-Spanish

Compared to the other Spanish for nurses resources we reviewed above, this Spanish Medical Dictionary is more…well…like a dictionary (shocking!). As opposed to paragraphs of information explaining subtleties of the language, full phrases of conversation, or even just the most common and important “must-know” pieces of information, this book basically offers a list of medical words and terms in both languages.

Don’t worry, this isn’t just one massive list of words. Fortunately, they do break the words and terminology into chapters based on various medical categories. For example, Chapter 1 is conversions and medical abbreviations, Chapter 2 are anatomical terms, Chapter 3 are medical history questions, Chapter 4 are common illnesses and symptoms, etc, for a total of 8 chapters.

After the formal chapters, there are three more sections of the book: A Spanish-to-English medical dictionary, and English-to-Spanish medical dictionary, and a conclusion chapter. We like the idea of incorporating an English-to-Spanish section, as all the formal chapters prior to this have the terms listed in alphabetical order based on the Spanish version of the terms, but not the English version, so if you try and quickly look up a Spanish term based on the English version that you already know, it may take you a little longer than if it was the other way around (i.e. looking for the English version of a Spanish term that someone may have spoken to you).

Overall, this is an excellent and comprehensive Spanish to English Medical Dictionary that gets straight to the point. It’s nothing fancy, but the alphabetically ordered list of medical terms categorized into logical sections is always a great resource to have if you are in an environment that requires knowledge of both the Spanish and English language.

Spanish for Nurses

If you have already gone through nursing school, chances are you have already been exposed to Kaplan books (whether or not you are aware of it is a different question). Kaplan is extremely popular for nursing resource books. For example, they are probably the most popular resources for NCLEX review books of various sorts, and also provide very similar resources for other health care professionals.

This Kaplan book – Spanish for Nurses, is quite popular and well-liked. If you are familiar with Kaplan books and have become familiar with their general style, or have simply found one of their books useful in the past, then this Spanish for Nurses book shouldn’t be any different. While the title is Spanish for Nurses, it can also be a helpful guide for nursing students, medical students, doctors, and other health care professionals.

This Spanish for Nurses book is meant to help practitioners become comfortable with taking patient histories, communicating information about medical tests, and of course, explaining diagnoses to patients, all in a Spanish-speaking environment. There is information specific to the emergency as well as the clinic, as well as more than 500 important phrases for interviews, diagnosis, examination, and treatment, as well as handy information about guidelines for appropriate usage. There are glossaries of key terms including specialists, common drugs, medication administration, as well as basic vocabulary that is common in these sorts of conversations.

This book isn’t too big at only about 8 inches tall, but it’s still probably a little big to have on you throughout the shift or other tasks. Another critical comment is that this book is based entirely in proper Spanish, which may not correspond exactly to more casual Spanish that you may hear from some patients. However, asking a publisher to address that issue at the same time would lead to a book with an infinite number of pages!

Overall, this is an excellent Spanish for Nurses resource, especially if you are already familiar with the Kaplan books. If you’re not familiar, don’t worry, it’s still a great book, so long as you don’t need to carry it on you 100% of the time, as it is a little comprehensive and just a bit too big for carrying around all the time. That being said, it’s still a great size for general travel, and the information itself, while comprehensive, is still focused. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s also excellent quality.

For other nursing education resources, feel free to check out our guides on nurse’s code of ethics, nclex prep books, lab values for nurses, and nursing math formulas.

There are many different Spanish for nurses resources to select from, but the five we reviewed above represent some of the most well-liked and reliable options that are currently available. This doesn’t mean you need to stick to one of these, but they should offer a great starting point for narrowing your selection. Buena suerte!