UNMH Helps Non-English Speaking Employees


July 29, 2008

Contact: Lyn Kehoe (505) 272-9823


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A three-year-old program at UNM Hospitals is bringing the opportunity for workplace success to employees whose first language is not English. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is taught by Susana Rinderle, a specialist from the Organizational and Professional Development (OPD) Department of UNM Hospitals.

The current program consists of a 10-week course, and attendees meet one hour per week during work hours. Classes are interactive, and students are assigned weekly homework. Students also receive a book (Inglés para Latinos) and handouts to help them with their studies.

Any employee with supervisor permission may take the beginning-level class. Candidates for intermediate level are placed by either having successfully passed the beginning level, or by successfully completing a placement test (reading, writing, oral). Students successfully pass a level by obtaining a grade of 70 percent or higher on a final exam. The class consists of mainly verbal skills, but also reading and writing. Courses are populated through partnership between OPD and Environmental Services, as well as students from other departments. The focus is on job-related skills, such as how to respond to customers or to Joint Commission surveyors. The main clients to date are from Housekeeping, Food and Nutrition and the Outpatient Surgery and Imaging Service (OSIS).

Rinderly remarks, "On April 4, 2008, the eight and ninth groups of students ‘graduated.’ For the first time, we offered two classes simultaneously - advanced at OSIS, and beginning at the main hospital. And, for the first time, all students who took the final exam passed. The program has been in place for three years, with nine classes completed. Over the years, 96 students have enrolled and 69 have ‘graduated.’ This is excellent progress."

Two recent graduates addressed members and visitors at a recent Clinical Operations Board meeting at the hospital, a tremendous testament to their improved grasp of English and confidence in their speaking skills. The class has allowed several employees to take promotions from housekeeping to orderly and patient tech positions. The project is clearly a win/win for the employees and for UNM Hospitals, and continues to improve the workplace environment.

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