Survival guides in Spanish: at the doctor's office

Today we’re learning something we hope you’ll not need to use but super important in case you do!

Our Survival Guide of today is: at the doctor’s office! When in a foreign country (which official’s language is different than yours) going to the doctor sounds scary. You’re not only nervous and uneasy because you are sick, but you’re also afraid that they’ll not understand you, and usually people begin to pray that they can communicate with the doctor and start imagining all the possible communication strategies. Though the ideal situation is that you spoke the same language as the doctor, that is usually not the case.

Nowadays, as people travel more and more, communication among L1 speakers of different languages is becoming something common. That’s why professional translators and interpreters in healthcare settings are perfect vehicles for successful linguistic exchanges.

In case none of the previous scenarios is your case when at the doctor’s office, here we give you a bit of basic information for you to manage properly in healthcare settings when in one of the marvelous countries of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

This Survival Guide will also help those taking the Medical Spanish course. It will help them get in touch with some Spanish terms they may use as a reminder when treating a Spanish-speaking patient on their return to their home countries.


The healthcare systems

The healthcare system in Ecuador is divided into the public and private sector. The number of doctors in rural areas is not as considerable as in big cities such as Quito, Cuenca, or Guayaquil.

In Peru, the healthcare system is decentralized and administered by several institutions. In Bolivia, they started promoting some months ago free universal healthcare.

Anyway, as the cost of private consultations can be high, visitors and tourists are recommended to bring private medical insurance with them.


When at the reception desk

When arriving at the medical setting, you’ll probably have to speak first to the person in charge of the reception desk to manage your appointment and attention.

+ Good morning. What do you need? / Buenos días. ¿Qué necesita?

– Good morning. I’m here because… / Buenos días. He venido porque…

+ Do you have private medical insurance? / ¿Tiene usted seguro privado?

– Yes, I do / Sí, sí lo tengo

+ Do you have your private medical insurance’s card with you? / ¿Tiene usted tarjeta de su seguro médico privado?

– Yes, I do. No, I don’t / Sí, si la tengo. No, no la tengo

+ Do you already have the appointment with the doctor? / ¿Tenía usted cita con el doctor/la doctora?

– Yes, I do. No, I don’t / Sí, si la tengo. No, no la tengo


When asking for an appointment

When asking for an appointment, you’ll also need to speak to the person in charge of the reception desk. Come on, you can do it!

+ Good morning, what do you need? / Buenos días. ¿Qué desea?

– Good morning. I’d like to make an appointment with the doctor (…) / Buenos días. Me gustaría pedir cita con el doctor/la doctora (…)

+ Alright. Has he/she told you when? / Muy bien. ¿Le ha dicho cuándo?

– Yes, for the day (…) at (…) h / Sí → + Para el día (…) a las (…) h .

– No → It is okay for you the day (…) at (…) h? / No → + ¿Le viene bien el día (…) a las (…) h?

Group of doctors

At the doctor’s office

Time to speak with the doctor! Remember they are there to help you so they’ll try to find the best solution for you!

+ Good morning. What is wrong? / Buenos días. ¿Qué le ocurre?

– Good morning doctor. I’m not feeling well / Buenos días doctor. No me encuentro bien.

+ What are your symptoms and how long have you been feeling like this? / ¿Qué síntomas tiene y cuánto tiempo lleva así?

– I’ve been feeling this way (…) days/weeks/months / Llevo desde hace (…) días/semanas/meses sintiendo (…)

+ Let me do a physical exam. Please, stand up and go to the stretcher / Permítame que le haga una exploración. Levántese y diríjase a la camilla.

+ Where does it hurt? / ¿Dónde le duele?

+ Do you smoke? Do you eat healthy food? Do you exercise? / ¿Fuma?, ¿come saludablemente?, ¿hace deporte?

+ Do you have unhealthy habits? / ¿Tiene hábitos nocivos?

+ Are you taking any medication? / ¿Toma alguna medicación actualmente?

+ Are you allergic to any medication? / ¿Tiene alergia a algún medicamento?

+ When was the last time you took a blood test/urine test? / ¿Cuándo se hizo el último análisis de sangre/orina?

+ The diagnosis is…/ Mi diagnóstico es

+ I advice you to… / Le aconsejo que…

+ You shall take (…), (…) times a day/a week for (…) days/weeks/months / Debe tomar (…), (…) veces al día/semana durante (…) días/semanas/meses.

+ Here is your prescription, take it and give it to the pharmacist / Tome la receta y que se lo den en la farmacia.

+ et well soon / Mejórese pronto.

– Thank you so much doctor! / Muchas gracias doctor/a.

And this is how far it goes our Survival Guide of today! Remember we have compiled some of the most basic sentences you may exchange with a doctor, but situations will vary and what you will say to the doctor and what they will tell you will depend on the specific situation!

Take a look at our Vocabulary: Medicine and Health to know more about health vocabulary you can use when at the doctor’s office!

Hope you’ve learned a lot with us today, see you soon!?❤️