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How language barriers can affect veterinary medicine


Shadi Ireifej, DVM DACVS, explains what access to care and spectrum of care is and how language barriers can impact both

Shadi Ireifej, DVM DACVS, VetTriage founder, owner, and chief medical officer, told dvm360 in an interview what access to care and spectrum of care means in veterinary medicine. He also explained how language barriers can often get in the way of receiving the best veterinary care.

In honor of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, Dr Ireifej discussed these challenges the community faces and how we can raise more awareness to find better solutions.

The following is a partial transcript of the video.

Shadi Ireifej, DVM DACVS: Access to care, at least in my definition, how we operate with VetTriage, means simply that accessing a veterinarian, a professional you need—regardless of what the extent of care is—just access to a professional who is knowledgeable, who knows what what to do, and who can answer your questions. Spectrum of care is the breadth of the care you need. So a great example of that is going to be if you need a veterinary specialist, so somebody who's a lot less available, nationally speaking, it's hard to come by specialists. And because there are fewer of them than general practitioners, they're also usually booked out for weeks or months or longer.

There's an embarrassment factor on both parties and both sides. If you only speak Spanish and you go to any veterinary clinic or emergency hospital in the US, chances are they're only going to speak English. And it's embarrassing on both parties. The professional doesn't like it, they can't translate what they need to translate to those Spanish speaking pet owners, and the Spanish speaking pet owner, who's already stressed out and freaked out about their pets [doesn't like it either].

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