Women's history month
Senior reaches out to Hispanic women
the fourth in a series of articles honoring MUSC women who have changed
the face, landscape and direction of MUSC and the medical center. This
year's theme is Women Taking the Lead.
by Melissa Lacas
Imagine arriving in the ER with a perplexing illness, unable to understand the doctor’s questions, concerns and diagnosis.
This breakdown of communication and understanding is particularly problematic for Spanish-speaking patients.
Christanne Hoffman is especially attuned to this issue and has devoted
her career to bridging the communication gap between the medical and
As the Hispanic community continues to grow, more bilingual doctors are
needed to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients to better
understand their medical conditions and make them feel as comfortable
A fourth-year College of Medicine student, Hoffman also is co-president
of the Alliance for Hispanic Health and is a certified medical Spanish
After returning from an undergraduate study trip in Costa Rica, Hoffman
became interested in the Hispanic community. She deferred her
acceptance to MUSC for one year so she could attend Universidad Pablo
de la Olavide, a Spanish university, to participate in the Rotary
International Foundation as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
While living with a host family and traveling in Spain, Hoffman’s
passion for the Hispanic community greatly increased. Once she began
classes at MUSC, Hoffman joined the Alliance for Hispanic Health, and
continued to reach out to Hispanic woman and their families.
“My experience in the emergency room introduced me to the necessity of
cultural competence in providing quality health care,” Hoffman said. “I
began to explore cultural differences and their effects on access to
care in the Hispanic community, and this later became the topic of my
Hoffman’s emergency room experiences motivated her to become fluent in
Spanish. “I have had the opportunity to establish unique relationships
because of my ability to communicate directly with Hispanic patients,”
Hoffman said. “The ER often serves as the only point of care for
individuals of this population, and I feel called to serve them.
“I plan to further extend my knowledge and competence in this area by
pursuing an International Emergency Medicine Fellowship following
residency training,” said Hoffman. “Medical missions will always be
integral to my practice.”
Born in West Columbia, she completed a bachelor’s degree at the
University of South Carolina’s Honor College and will earn her medical
degree in May.
Crediting the positive role models in her life, Hoffman has always set high standards and goals for herself.
“I have always looked up to my grandmother, mother and two older
sisters.” Hoffman said. “They are strong women who never give up.”
In order to continue serving Hispanic patients, Hoffman has applied for
residencies in areas with high Spanish-speaking populations.
Friday, March 20, 2009