So, that Spanish-speaking patient shows up in the clinic. The doctor believes he or she speaks Spanish well enough to get through the encounter. But is this a case of delusion? Would an interpreter be the better solution?
Here’s research that shows how accurate physicians are in self-assessment of their language ability compared to the results of actual testing of their language skills:
- The Impact of Language Proficiency Testing on Provider Use of Spanish for Clinical Care;
- Relationship Between Self-assessed and Tested Non–English-language Proficiency Among Primary Care Providers
The nutshell answer: One study found that docs who rated themselves as possessing high or low language proficiency had the clearest picture. Those who thought they fell in the middle of the scale were more likely to be flattering themselves. The other study revealed that once docs got test results, they felt less comfortable rolling out their Spanish in patient encounters.