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Women's history month
Senior reaches out to Hispanic women

This 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
Public Relations
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

Christanne Hoffman is especially attuned to this issue and has devoted her career to bridging the communication gap between the medical and Spanish-speaking communities.
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 as possible.
A fourth-year College of Medicine student, Hoffman also is co-president of the Alliance for Hispanic Health and is a certified medical Spanish interpreter.
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 senior thesis.”
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

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.