Here’s Why Medical Interpreter Certification Is the Perfect New Year’s Resolution

Five men jumping with excitement over making their New Year's resolution getting their medical interpreter certifications.
Source: Husna Miskandar on Unsplash

And don’t just take our word for it. We asked a recently certified medical interpreter her thoughts, too!

Many professional interpreters have a goal of earning a medical interpreter certification. Certification can help further develop an interpreter’s skills and boost their careers in healthcare interpreting.

And since we’re approaching that time of the year, why not tie a big accomplishment like medical interpreter certification to a New Year’s resolution?

If you’ve been nodding along this far, we’ve outlined a few reasons why getting certified is the perfect goal to set for the new year.

Reason #1: Build your interpreting career and get recognized

Mariana W., a Spanish interpreter based in North Carolina, recently earned her National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) certification.

 “Having my certification has opened so many doors,” stated Mariana.

Being certified proves that an interpreter is invested in themselves and their career. It takes time and dedication to go through the training and continuing education needed to maintain their language skills, which is something many employers look for when considering candidates.

“Once they see you have the certificate, they take you seriously,” said Mariana. “If you have passion for helping people and your community, take it to the next level. Knowledge, education, and everything you invest in yourself, no one can take that away from you,” she added.

For many interpreters, certification provides a deserved sense of accomplishment that continues to pay off, both personally and professionally.

Related: Interpreters Gain Recognition, Advantage with CCHI Certification

Reason #2: Elevate the interpreting profession

Interpreters aren’t just bilingual — they’re language professionals.

Certification can lift up an interpreter’s career, but it also elevates the medical interpreting profession. Certified medical interpreters help improve the standard and quality of language access in healthcare through their knowledge, skill, and experience.

“You have a different way of seeing things and how one word can change outcomes,” said Mariana.

She recalled a devastating medical case she read about in school, and how proper treatment for a patient was delayed due to miscommunication between the family and medical staff.

In 1980, a Spanish-speaking patient was admitted to a hospital in Florida in a comatose state. The family tried to explain the condition, but no trained medical interpreters were available. The hospital asked a bilingual staff member to step in and interpret.

The family explained that the patient was “intoxicado,” meaning poisoned in Spanish. But the staff member misinterpreted the word to English as intoxicated, so doctors treated the patient as if he were suffering from intentional drug use. Sadly, due to the delay in proper treatment, the patient became quadriplegic.

Such cases where hospitals rely on family or other untrained individuals can have serious consequences. Certified interpreters have the tools to better manage difficult medical situations and protect patients.

“It gives you the confidence that they will see you as a professional interpreter, not just a bilingual,” said Mariana

Add “certified medical interpreter” to your résumé in the new year

Two nationally recognized certifications for medical interpreters exist in the US: The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).

These two organizations have certified thousands of interpreters who gained professional advantages in the field of healthcare interpreting.

Both NBCMI and CCHI certification programs aim to improve the quality of medical interpreting standards, so if getting certified is your New Year’s resolution, then visit the CCHI or NBCMI websites for more information. They include plenty of helpful resources and even handbooks on the certification process.   

And for anyone who is ready to apply, or just looking to hone your medical interpreting skills, Mariana shared some of her favorite resources: a medical glossary of terms and an interpreter training manual. Both helped her prepare for the certification exam!

Interested in becoming at interpreter for CLI? Please visit our careers page for information on how to apply.

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