Spanish-speakers Assisting Latinos Student Association (SALSA) provides a forum for the practice, development, and improvement of Spanish language and cultural skills. In particular we focus on tailoring our skills for use in the health care setting.
SALSA actively seeks out interpreting opportunities for its members to hone their skills in the clinic, as well as supporting efforts to develop Spanish skills in more informal practice sessions within the context of the organization. As part of our mission, SALSA also advocates for the expanded use of Spanish language in health care in order to address the growing Latino patient population.
Our membership is open to UNC students and employees interested in improving their Spanish and using their skills in health care settings including medical students, graduate students, post-graduates, and undergraduates. Both membership and participation in the group’s activities are not restricted in regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender. A majority of the organization’s membership is comprised of UNC-CH students.
The Community We Serve
In the last ten years, North Carolina has experienced a growth in our Latino population. This growing community faces considerable language and cultural barriers to health care and social services. Often this need can be found in our own back yard. As a result, staff at local clinics has had to face the difficult task of adjusting to the changing demographics .
We provide interpreting services for SHAC (Student Health Action Committee) clinic in Carrboro, the SHAC health booth at La Fiesta del Pueblo, and other community health events. Through these opportunities, SALSA hopes to improve the Spanish language skills of our members as well as encourage and advocate for expanding the use of Spanish in health care. We hope to encourage future health care workers to become better Spanish speakers and to incorporate Spanish language in their training and in their practice.
Four co-coordinators share the responsibilities for SALSA. These tasks include assessing the Spanish skills of interested volunteers, interpreter scheduling for the SHAC clinics and local health fairs, maintenance of the website, coordination of conversation opportunities, distribution of information, and management of finances.
SALSA interpreters go through an application process that involves a written assessment followed by an oral mock interpreting session so that the coordinators can get an idea of each candidate’s level of Spanish, knowledge of medical terminology, and comfort speaking.
Front desk interpreters answer questions and help patients check in at the front desk. This level is for those with an intermediate level of Spanish and medical terminology. Clinic interpreters interpret for the patient interviews. This level is for those with a higher level of Spanish and medical terminology.