Dr. Henry Nieder will study Portuguese in Brazil
Dr. Henry Nieder will soon spend 10 weeks in Maceió, Brazil, where he will take a course in the Portuguese language.
Dr. Nieder told The Times, "I've been in active practice for more than 20 years and thought it was time to do something new." Although immersing himself in the Portuguese language is certainly something new, Dr. Nieder will never be far from the practice of medicine, because the underlying purpose of the trip is to increase his usefulness as a physician to the Vineyard's population who speak only, or almost only, Brazilian Portuguese. Many of the hours not spent in language class will be spent observing Brazilian doctors at work.
To make the trip, Dr. Nieder is taking a leave of absence from his family medical practice located in the Martha 's Vineyard Hospital. The hospital will underwrite his tuition to language school and help with airfare. A former partner, Dr. Ilene Klein, will tend to Dr. Nieder's patients while he's away.
Henry Nieder. Photo by Ezra Blair
Dr. Nieder has already learned some Portuguese, but he told The Times that he needs to be more fluent, not only in the language but also in the customs of his patients from Brazil. One may learn relatively easily to ask the right medical questions, such as "Where does it hurt?" But the patient's answer can take many forms, and Dr. Nieder confesses that even with some rudimentary knowledge of Portuguese, he is often unable to understand the answers as completely as he would like. There might also be cultural factors obscuring important information, he adds.
Maceió is on the east coast of Brazil, just below where coastline bulges farthest into the Atlantic. Dr. Nieder describes it as a medium-sized city with hospitals and a language school. Dr. Nieder will attend language classes each morning for four hours, and on many afternoons he will shadow Brazilian physicians and listen to their conversations with patients. He will be staying with old friends, physician Rita Santana and her husband, Raul. Their daughter Renata, a medical student, has recently been staying with Dr. Nieder and his wife, Miryam Gerson, on her summer vacation, perfecting her English and volunteering with Vineyard Pediatrics to assist with Portuguese speaking patients.
Ms. Gerson, who is fluent in Portuguese, is the coordinator of Island Medical Interpreter Services, a new medical interpretation service developed by Island Health, Inc., which in 2004 opened a clinic in Edgartown, the first rural health clinic of its kind in Massachusetts.