Karla Bingaman Finds Career Path through “Spanish for Healthcare Professionals”

Spanish major Karla Bingaman is now a medical translator at Penn State Health in Hershey.

To achieve the best outcomes, health professionals need to communicate clearly with patients and their families, who are often experiencing complicated diagnoses and treatments. Karla Bingaman ’18 sees the struggle with communication regularly in her work as a medical translator at Penn State Health Shared Services, which serves Spanish speakers of many backgrounds.

“In today’s world, we live in a melting pot,” Bingaman says. “We are surrounded by different cultures and lifestyles from around the world. This means that health professionals are more than likely going to encounter different languages that we are unable to understand. Translation healthcare is always going to be in demand.”

A double major in global studies and Spanish, Bingaman translates medical insurance and patient information from English to Spanish and Spanish to English on behalf of medical staff as she works toward her medical interpreter certification, to be received in November. 

Bingaman discovered the importance and opportunity for medical translation during the LVC course Spanish for Healthcare Professionals. The curriculum focused on the basics of what a job as an interpreter may look like after graduation and conversational Spanish.

“The conversations helped me practice my Spanish skills and transition my thoughts in Spanish,” Bingaman says, finding those lessons to be important in meeting workplace challenges. 

Bingaman also learned additional life lessons and skills studying in Valladolid, Spain in the fall semester of her junior year. Being immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment enhanced her communication skills, including speaking, writing, and reading. “It is essential to implement knowledge learned in the classroom and transition yourself into using the skills in real life,” she said.

Most importantly, Bingaman also found her dream career. “I knew I wanted to do something within the healthcare field,” she said, “and being able to use my Spanish skills in a rewarding environment like Penn State Health is more of an opportunity than I could have imagined when I first began college.”


Sierra Force, LVC Marketing & Communications Assistant