This week the Institute of Technology, Tralee welcomes 17 partners from Belgium, Germany, Poland, UK, Slovakia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Turkey for the VOCAL-Medical project. Other Irish partners include Helen Kelly from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Catrina Heffernan from the School of Nursing at IT, Tralee. The VOCAL-Medical project aims to transfer innovation from Leonardo da Vinci TOI project VOCAL (2007-2009) and other relevant EU projects of the LLP 2007-2013, to language learning in the medical sector. The project targets professionals in the medical sector who need to communicate with patients who are non-nationals in emergency situations where good communication skills can literally mean the difference between life and death. It responds to an increasing need to overcome language and intercultural barriers in the medical sector as a result of demographic changes and increased mobility.
Commenting on the project Kristin Brogan, lecture in the School of Social Sciences at the Institute and Project Coordinator said, “The VOCAL- Medical partnership draws on the skills of professionals in the medical and language training sectors, as well as experts in intercultural training and IT. The project will provide language and culture training materials contexualised for the medical sector, through cooperation between educational institutions and professionals working in this sector. VOCAL-Medical will contribute to bridging the gap between different healthcare systems and different cultural behaviours inherent in the doctor-patient relationship. This has benefits for the healthcare systems themselves, for the professionals who work in them and for patients who are already in the country or may travel there in future as migrant workers, tourists or students. Better doctor-patient communication means better treatment”.
According to Kristin the project will create online modules in eight languages as well as an associated intercultural module, using the format developed in the original VOCAL project. “These will be made available not only on a website, as in the previous project, but via mobile phone applications. The language modules will be developed bilingually and will cover topics related to ambulance and emergency services and intercultural aspects of this”.
The international partners will have a two days meeting in Tralee and a trip to Killarney, including a visit to Muckross House and the National Park.