The Spanish for Health Professionals (SHP) Certificate Program is designed to provide students with the language skills and cultural knowledge needed to help Spanish-speakers successfully negotiate the health care system. Graduates of the program leave not only with proficiency in medical Spanish, but also with an understanding of the Hispanic culture and how that culture may affect healthcare practices and the delivery of health services.

This certificate will enhance the credentials of individuals seeking a career in direct patient care such as doctor, nurse, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or physical therapist, or anyone who works with Spanish-speakers in a healthcare setting such as insurance providers or healthcare navigators.

Hispanic and Latino groups are the largest minority group in the United States, and Spanish-speakers constitute the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. In Milwaukee alone, Spanish-speakers make up 14 percent of the population. As these populations grow, so does the need for healthcare workers who can communicate with and advocate for Spanish-speaking patients.

Students in the program gain expertise in the language of health care, in Spanish, including colloquial Spanish; an understanding of cultural differences that impact the delivery of health care services to Hispanic populations; and knowledge of the health care concerns of many different groups of Spanish-speakers. There is a language-intensive track for students who need more education in that area or a health-focused track for individuals who may have some Spanish fluency but need more background in medicine and science.

Certificates are similar to minors in terms of credit requirements but draw on coursework from multiple fields of study rather than from a single department.


The Spanish for Health Professionals Certificate is open to all students seeking a bachelor’s degree from UWM, to students who previously received a bachelor’s degree from UWM or any other accredited college or university, and to individuals who do not plan to pursue a college or university degree (non-degree students) but who have a strong interest in this topic. To be admitted as non-degree candidates, individuals must meet regular University admissions requirements. Students currently involved in baccalaureate studies who successfully complete the requirements of the program will be awarded the certificate at the time of graduation. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree and non-degree students will receive the certificate upon completion of the program requirements.


There are two tracks in the Certificate, a language-intensive track for students in health professions areas who are interested in working with Hispanic populations and a health-focused track for students with some Spanish competency who desire familiarity with the health-related vocabulary in Spanish. To obtain the certificate, students must complete at least 18 credits in courses approved for the Spanish for Health Professionals certificate, with at least 12 credits taken in residence at UWM and a minimum of  9 of the residence credits taken in L&S courses at the advanced level (courses numbered 300 and above). A maximum of 6 credits in a combination of independent study, internship, and study abroad courses may count toward the certificate. Students must earn a 2.500 GPA in all certificate courses, including transfer work, and in the courses for the certificate taken at UWM. Courses for the certificate may not be taken on a credit/no credit basis. The certificate requirements are as follows:

Spanish for Health Professionals, Language-Intensive Track

The Language-Intensive Track requires completion of at least 18 credits as follows, and is not available to Spanish majors and minors; they must select the health-focused track:

SPANISH 308Advanced Writing and Reading3
SPANISH 318Advanced Speaking and Listening3
or SPANISH 319 Advanced Speaking and Listening for Heritage Speakers
SPANISH 338Spanish for Health Professionals3
SPANISH 388Health Issues in the Hispanic World3
Select 6 credits from any courses in the electives group listed for the health-focused track6
Total Credits18

Spanish for Health Professionals, Health-Focused Track

The Health-Focused Track requires completion of at least 18 credits as follows:

SPANISH 338Spanish for Health Professionals3
SPANISH 388Health Issues in the Hispanic World3
Select 9 credits in one of the clusters below9
Select 3 credits from any cluster or the general electives3
Total Credits18

Health-Focused Track Electives

Health Communication
COMMUN 381Health Communication3
COMMUN 481Interpersonal Issues in Health Communication3
COMMUN 581Health Communication Interventions3
Pharmaceuticals, Medicine, and Drugs
ANTHRO 443Medicine and Pharmaceuticals in the Global Age3
HCA 212Drugs Used and Abused3
PSYCH 454Psychopharmacology and Addiction3
Health Care Delivery Policy
ECON 450Health Economics3
HCA 502Healthcare Delivery Systems: National and International Perspectives3
PHILOS 244Ethical Issues in Health Care: (subtitle)3
URB STD 639Health Care and Public Policy in the United States3
Health: A Social Science Perspective
ANTHRO 440Medical Anthropology3
COMSDIS 210Survey of Communication Disorders (SS) 13
PSYCH 555Health Psychology3
SOCIOL 282Sociology of Aging3
SOCIOL 331Sociology of Health Care3

As determined by the certificate program coordinator.

Health: A Natural Science Perspective
BIO SCI 350Human Parasitology4
BMS 232Introduction to Nutrition (NS) 13
HS 101Introduction to Health and Disease2

As determined by the certificate program coordinator.

Global Health
ANTHRO/GLOBAL 439Culture and Global Health3
NURS 102Perspectives on Health Care Systems2
NURS 401Global Patterns of Disease3
NURS 575Global Health: Ethics and Human Rights3
NURS 683Healthcare-Immigrants/Refugees3
NURS 684Death and Dying Around the World3
General Elective Courses
BMS 260Introduction to Complementary and Integrative Health Approaches3
HCA 307Epidemiology for the Health Sciences3
NURS 101Cultural Diversity in Health Care (CD SS)3
NURS 102Perspectives on Health Care Systems2
NURS 301Introduction to Global Health3
NURS 380Honors Seminar:3
PH 101Introduction to Public Health3

Study abroad courses in Spanish-speaking countries may be accepted with the approval of the Certificate Program Committee. Other courses not on this list but relevant to Spanish for Health Professionals may be accepted with the approval of the Certificate Program Committee.

Credits earned at other institutions equivalent to courses in the certificate program may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the program requirements, subject to review by the Certificate Program Committee. Students currently enrolled at UWM who have fulfilled some of the program’s requirements prior to the program’s approval may have their credits applied retroactively to the certificate program.