“Medical interpreter training is inconvenient!” – Part 2 of 3

Yes, I’ve heard the reasons given by interpreters for not wanting or getting training, whether we’re talking core concepts or continuing education. Let me get this out of my system now: “Blah, blah, blah…”

Here are a few well-known excuses, as well as my responses:

  • “Medical interpreter training is too expensive.” – Medical interpreters typically feel that the cost of training is high compared to the hourly wage they will earn. Current 40-hour core training programs around the country cost $500-$800, after which a medical interpreter earns $12-$30/hour. Let’s compare that to some other healthcare occupations. Phlebotomists pay $600-$2,500 for a 12-week course to earn about $12/hour; medical assistants pay $9,000-$45,000 for a 9 month to 2 year program to earn $10-$20/hour. Unfortunately, training is not yet a requirement to become a paid medical interpreter with most organizations. Once training becomes a pre-requisite to hiring and a stipulation for continued professional development, the expense will be viewed as a necessary and acceptable sacrifice in order to work in healthcare.
  • “There are no medical interpreter training programs in my area.” – Unlike other healthcare professions, few “traditional” educational programs exist for medical interpreters. Universities and community colleges have only begun to offer programs in recent years; even so, they mostly offer “certificate courses,” not medical interpreting degrees. So most medical interpreters learn “on the job,” not from mentors but from their own trial and error. However, anyone with an internet connection now has access to online core training programs and continuing education classes. Online webinars for medical interpreters typically cost $35-$50/hour and are often free if you join a professional association.
  • “Medical interpreter training doesn’t fit my schedule.” – True, this can be tough, particularly if you are constantly needed for interpreting assignments, have a family, or require more than four hours of sleep each night. Again, consider online offerings, which are more flexible and can save you the hassle of travel or missed work time. Whether you choose in-person or online training, consider it a TIME INVESTMENT. Without training, you will start to lose your assignments to other interpreters who MAKE the time, and then you might have more time on your hands than you want.

Believe me, I empathize with medical interpreters who are challenged with the emerging expectations of an evolving profession. Whether you get one medical interpreting assignment per week or work “full-time,” I suggest that you PRIORITIZE getting competent core training and continuing education! 

Share your thoughts about this topic in the Comments section of this post.

Read more posts in this series:

About VoicesACADEMY.com:

VoicesACADEMY is a subscription-based website for interpreters, translators and healthcare providers. We’re working hard to provide affordable, high quality training and professional support through on-demand videos and social networking. Join us on Twitter (@VoicesAcademy) and Facebook (VoicesAcademy).

About the author:

Michelle A. Scott is a bilingual Registered Nurse and Medical Sociologist who founded Voices For Health, Inc. in 1997. She advocates for raising the standards of language accommodation in healthcare through conference lectures, professional leadership and development of video content for VoicesACADEMY.com. 

Michelle Scott, RN









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2 thoughts on ““Medical interpreter training is inconvenient!” – Part 2 of 3

  1. Pingback: “I don’t need a trained medical interpreter, just send a warm body!” – Part 3 of 3 | VoicesACADEMY

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