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National Board Marks One Year Anniversary of National Certification Becoming Available for Medical Interpreters

Hospitals embrace new standard as a path to quality, equitable healthcare for limited-English-speaking patients

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2010 — Great strides have been made since the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters made history with the launch of the first national certification for medical interpreters one year ago this month, and limited-English-speaking patients are reaping the rewards. Nearly 500 candidates have registered for the certification exams and almost half have entered the testing phase. The National Board has granted more than 80 Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI) credentials and many more are expected to be issued by year’s end. Additionally, the National Registry of Certified Medical Interpreters was launched as an online tool for medical interpreters, healthcare providers and other employers to readily identify and contact these highly qualified professionals.

Recognizing the historic effort that went into the establishment of the first national standard of its kind for medical interpreters, the National Board has created a documentary to chronicle the historic path to certification. An excerpt is available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULZh69mH_44.

“With the designation of each CMI, we are raising the quality of medical interpreting in the United States and helping to improve patient safety for limited-English speakers,” said Dr. Nelva Lee, Chair of the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. “We’ve made tremendous progress in the past 12 months, and we are especially encouraged by the growing support from hospitals that are eager to embrace this national standard in the name of patient safety.”

For example, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, TX, is the first hospital in the country to offer complete reimbursement for its staff of interpreters who take and pass the national certification exams. According to Edgardo Garcia, Director of Language Access Services at Children’s Medical Center, the department began to actively prepare staff for certification when the initiative was first announced.

“Many of our interpreters are taking their place at the front of the line and have registered for the certification exams,” said Garcia. “Our support of this national standard is best illustrated by the CMI pin we’ve already developed to denote the professional achievement, so that our interpreters stand out and can be recognized throughout our organization once they become certified medical interpreters.”

Baystate Health in Western Massachusetts is another pioneer in promoting national certification by creating career paths for interpreters throughout the health system, the top level already requiring national certification. In addition, they have begun to promote and encourage national certification by including “nationally certified interpreters preferred” in all postings and advertisements for new interpreters.

“These initiatives help to encourage current staff interpreters to become nationally certified since they will be remunerated at a higher rate, and inform and encourage medical interpreters in the community to become nationally certified,” commented Tim Moriarty, Manager of Interpreter & Translation Services for Baystate Health. “Having a staff full of nationally certified interpreters, and being able to hire those who are nationally certified in the future, establishes a high standard that a manager can and will expect to see among interpreters, and lowers risk to patients and facilities because interpreters have proven themselves as experts in the field in order to obtain national certification.”

“We are thrilled to see hospitals like Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and Baystate Health investing in the professional standards of their interpreters,” said Eric Hardt, MD, with Boston Medical Center and one of 12 inaugural National Board members. “It is only with the support of the healthcare community that we will ultimately achieve our mission to ensure patient safety for limited-English speakers by evaluating and assessing medical interpreter competency.”

In addition to the benefits recognized by hospitals and interpreters, owners of smaller language service companies that provide interpreters to hospitals are also collaborating with the National Board and stand to benefit as many do not have the resources to screen, test and validate the backgrounds and credentials of every interpreter.

“Interpreters Associates Inc. was established with the vision of not just providing continuing education for medical interpreters, but also as a staunch advocate of national certification,” states Arthur Liebl, President of Interpreters Associates Inc. of Charlestown, MA. “National certification will raise our profession to new heights as well as give the medical interpreter more credibility in the medical community. It is a pivotal step forward for all of us.”

To prepare for the coming challenges of expanding certification to new languages and gaining greater industry participation, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters is issuing an open call for volunteers to join its ranks. Potential candidates are invited to submit their resumes and interest to volunteer in a National Board committee to Email.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL BOARD OF CERTIFICATION FOR MEDICAL INTERPRETERS

The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters is a non-profit organization, formed from an independent group of industry professionals who represent key stakeholder groups, including professional medical interpreters, trainers, employers, providers, and regulators. The National Board developed the first and most comprehensive national medical interpreting certification program in the nation, as scientifically validated by PSI, a leading third-party testing organization. It serves as the certifying entity and has independent authority over all essential certification implementation and expansion decisions. The purpose of certification is to ensure limited-English proficiency patient safety by rigorous evaluation and assurance of the competency of medical interpreters, through written and oral exams. Those who pass the written and oral exams are bestowed the CMI credential which stands for Certified Medical Interpreter. For more information, visit http://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org.

Media Contact:
Shawn Yanan / [email protected] / 305-962-1768

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