Have you taken the interpreter certification exam offered by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters? Share your experience here!
I took the CCHI Certification exam which tested language specific interpreting skills and abilities in 2012. At first, my motivation was to change the way some providers look at medical interpreters as merely helpers (not professionals) and the prevailing notion that any bilingual person can be an interpreter. I wanted to take the certification to demonstrate the seriousness and professionalism of medical interpreters and get providers to recognize medical interpreting as a profession.Taking the exam was a wonderful advancement opportunity. Taking the certification exam and becoming a certified interpreter has helped me advance in my career path and present myself as a professional providing vital services. It endowed authenticity and credibility upon the work that I do and helped me gain increased recognition and acknowledgement. I am continuously pursing continuing education to stay up-to-date with the new challenges and improve my skills and knowledge even further. I recommend all interpreters to go for it. It is a wonderful opportunity and they owe it to themselves and the patients to raise the bar and gain more recognition to the medical interpreting profession and to advocate for patient safety.
I finally got the chance to sit down and write something 🙂
In 2009 I took my first training course for medical interpreters and at the time I was not really interested in becoming a certified interpreter. I was just starting to explore the business of medical interpreting. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters didn’t even exist until later that year and I knew very little about the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. After completing that first basic training I decided to gain more experience and continue to educate myself in the field of translation and interpretation.
At the beginning of 2013 I started to give some serious thought to the idea of becoming a certified medical interpreter, especially since I was getting a lot of work in that area. Then I decided to take another training course for medical interpreters mostly as a refresher and to review and update the information I learned back in 2009. In my opinion, seeking proper training and accumulating valuable experience is the best way to prepare for the CCHI certification exam.
After I registered for the written exam I read all the information they provided regarding the exam and what to expect. I purchased the practiced exam and I also reviewed my notes and all the material from the latest medical interpreter training course I took. I have to say that having all that information fresh in my head was probably one of the most important factors in passing the written exam.
The written exam was a multiple choice computer based test and lasted about two hours. That was just enough time for me to complete the exam. When I reached the end of the exam I only had five minutes left to go back and review all the questions I bookmarked. I had to read very fast and either confirm or change my answers to those questions. For me those were the most stressful five minutes of the entire exam, mostly because of the number of questions I had bookmarked. As a non-native speaker of English I tend to read very slowly and in some cases I read twice to make sure I understand correctly, especially during a written exam such as this one that included with a lot of tricked questions combined with very similar answer options.
Since this was a multiple choice type of exam I received the preliminary results almost immediately after I was done with it and I was happy to see that I passed. Along with my results, it was very interesting to see my strengths and weaknesses represented on a graphic that shows the different areas that were assessed. I thought that was a really nice feature that could help you decide what areas you really need to go back and review, especially in case of failing the exam.
The oral exam was a different experience in a different testing center. All sorts of complications came up with the initial scheduling (really bad costumer service) and I missed my first window to take the exam. I had to wait at least a couple of months for the next window. Finally, after sorting out the scheduling issues with the testing center and my own schedule, I was able to set a date to take my exam, which was almost at the end of the time period or window during which the exam was being offered. Since I have been working as a medical interpreter for a little over 3 years I felt confident that I would past the test. However, just to be on the safe side I decided to take the practice exam that was available for free on the CCHI website.
At the testing center, just before taking the oral exam, they have you take the practice exam once again to make sure you familiarize yourself with the system. That was good because while doing that I realized there were some technical issues and the system was not recording properly. The proctor spent a little over an hour trying to solve the issue (without success) with a CCHI representative on the phone, so we had to reschedule. I had to reschedule for the next day otherwise I would have to wait another 2 or 3 months for the next testing window. I went the next day and everything went well. Once again the time constrain was a factor that added a bit of stress especially towards the end of the exam.
Value vs. cost: Not really expensive. I understand the importance of being certified and properly trained but in today’s world I still don´t see the value of a certification; not until it becomes law that in order to find work as a medical interpreter you have to be certified. I still seem to be competing with the other guy who decided to be a medical interpreter just because he is “bilingual”, with high school diploma and no formal training in medical interpreting. We need to raise the bar. Unfortunately, we are still very much underappreciated by translation agencies and healthcare providers alike, and that will not change until it becomes law that a CHI or CMI must be present to bridge the language barrier between a service provider and a patient/client.
Nice to meet you all. Very interesting stories. I wanted to know if you recommend any medical terminology course to study for the CCHI written test.
Thanks for your support!