Immigrant Patient Conversation with Medical Provider

Jasmine Pringle (recorder), Namratha Atluri, Tyler Couch (conversation)

This is a sound recording of a simulated conversation between a young adult Indian female immigrant patient and an American male medical student in the lobby of the Duke Student Wellness Center (conversation based on exact real-life experience). In this recording, the immigrant patient, whose native language is Telugu, is attempting to explain her illness and nature of her pain to the medical student, who is trying to help her by suggesting different English descriptive words for pain. However, due to the patient’s lack of English proficiency (her lack of knowledge regarding the right English words to exactly capture her pain), she is slipping into her native language, and the medical student is unable to understand what she is saying. This recording captures the discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration faced by immigrant patients who cannot express their medical stories and feelings in English, and it also depicts the confusion and helplessness of medical providers when they simply cannot understand their patients. As a nation with many immigrants whose first language is not English, the US healthcare system has many incidents where language is the barrier to communication and the establishment of a close and trusting relationship between patients and physicians. 

Namratha Atluri, Jasmine Pringle, Tyler Couch, Michael Davis
English, Telugu
December 1, 2018

Durham, North Carolina


Patient conversation: bilingual, conversation


Tyler: Hi I’m Tyler, I’m the medical student. How are you today?

Namratha: Good.

Tyler: Good. So, can you tell me what brings you into the clinic today?

Namratha: Uh, uh, [Telugu] throat? Throat hurts.

Tyler: Your throat hurts. Okay, can you tell me what that pain is like for you?

Namratha: Uh, pain, hurts, uh. [Telugu] Spicy? Spicy food feeling. Uh…

Tyler: Okay, so uh, it’s burning, or tingling… itchy?

Namratha: Spicy…

Tyler: Spicy food…

Namratha: [Telugu

Bit Rate/Frequency: 
48 kHz