Access to health information has been an intractable determinant of health disparities in Latino communities. While limited English proficiency and low health literacy are widely researched determinants of inadequate access to health information, we also know need to know more about other social factors that can improve access, such as social support, culturally resonant messaging, and trust between patient and provider.

As part of this webinar, Drs. Rachel Showstack and Karol Hardin will discuss patient perceptions of remote interpreting—what patients call “la maquina”—and patient perceptions of their doctors’ competence, or incompetence, due to language discordance. Providing us hope for future improved patient-provider interactions, Drs. Parizad Dejbord-Sawan and Dalia Magana will highlight the need for cultural mediators and provider cultural humility to improve health outcomes, and the proactive efforts Latina women are already making to improve outcomes for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The webinar ultimately aims to stimulate dialogue about our hopes for what ‘patient-centeredness’ can look like for U.S. Latino patient populations.  We hope to highlight crucial places that require immediate intervention, ideally in collaboration with applied linguists, if we are to improve health outcomes for LEP Latino populations, especially in this urgently time-sensitive moment of COVID-19.


Revisit the conversation here:



Parizad Dejbord-Sawan

Parizad Dejbord-Sawan is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of Akron where she currently teaches Spanish language courses and Spanish for the Health Professions courses. She is the creator and director of the Certificate Beginning Medical Spanish which is a program for hospital professionals and medical staff. She also directs the Certificate of Advanced Spanish for the Health Professions. She has been a member of the steering committee for the 2018 and 2018 Latino Health Summit. She is the author of Beginning Medical Spanish. Oral Proficiency and Cultural Humility published by Routledge in December 2019.



Karol Hardin

Karol Hardin is an associate professor of Spanish at Baylor University where she teaches Hispanic linguistics, coordinates the certificate in Spanish for Health Professions, and serves as affiliate faculty in Medical Humanities. She also is a member of the steering committee for the Medical Spanish Taskforce. Her research and publications emphasize the pragmatics of healthcare communication, medical Spanish education, persuasive discourse, and lying, and her work can be found in venues such as Hispania, Health Communication, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, Journal of Pragmatics, and Intercultural Pragmatics. She is the author of Pragmatics of persuasive discourse in Spanish television advertising and co-author of Español conversacional para profesiones médicas: Manual de actividades. Currently, her research focuses on rapport and miscommunication between providers and Spanish-speaking patients.


Dalia Magaña

Dalia Magaña is an assistant professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of California, Merced. Her expertise is in cultural competency in doctor-patient interactions, how Spanish speakers conceptualize their health in cancer narratives, and issues in teaching Spanish as a heritage language in the United States. Her work raises awareness about the role of interpersonal language in improving healthcare communication with local communities of Spanish speakers and developing intentional pedagogy for teaching Spanish to serve Latinos in high stakes situations such as in healthcare. Her research has been published in interdisciplinary journals such as Discourse & Communication, Patient Education & Counseling, and Health Communication. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of California Davis in Spanish Linguistics. 


Glenn Martínez

Glenn Martínez is professor of Hispanic Linguistics and director of the Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Ohio State University. His research focuses on sociolinguistics and applied linguistics of Spanish-speaking communities in the United States and along the U.S.-Mexico border. He has written seminal works in the historical sociolinguistics of Spanish in the Southwest, and he has made significant contributions in the area of language policies affecting Spanish-speakers in the United States. He has also written extensively on the teaching of Spanish to heritage learners. Professor Martínez’s most recent line of research is in the area of language and health care. In this vein, he has published extensively on language policies in the health delivery system in the United States and abroad, on the linguistic practices of Spanish-speaking patients and providers in healthcare settings, and on the development and evaluation of language pedagogy for healthcare professionals.


Karmin San Martin

Karmin San Martin is currently earning her doctoral degree in Culture, Literacy, & Language at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her scope of research covers topics in healthcare, minorities’ struggles, and social disadvantages. She is a consultant in the healthcare industry  and is currently conducting extensive research on COVID-19 updates and its effects and implications in healthcare worldwide.




Maricel G. Santos

Maricel G. Santos is a professor of English at San Francisco State University, where she teaches in the MA TESOL and EdD in Educational Leadership Programs. She was a 2008-2013 faculty fellow with the Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) program, National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health.  Her research explores adult learner participation as a health-protective factor in transnational communities.





Rachel Showstack 

Rachel Showstack is an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures at Wichita State University. She received a PhD in Hispanic linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Spanish from Sacramento State University. Dr. Showstack’s current research addresses language access for Spanish speakers in the United States. Her recent work in these areas has appeared in Applied Linguistics, Hispanic Healthcare International, and the Emergency Medicine Journal. She is the Kansas regional lead in the project Engaging Language Researchers for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research with Latinos and is currently working to amplify community voices and develop a response to community language access needs. In addition to her work in language and health care, Dr. Showstack’s research on Spanish heritage language learning has appeared in various scholarly journals and edited volumes. Her first book project Language Ideologies and Linguistic Identity in Heritage Language Learning is under contract with Routledge. While under stay-at-home orders, Dr. Showstack enjoys working in the garden, reading with her family, and running.