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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Course planned for medical interpreters

BY TRACIE SIMER, Jackson Sun (visit link for full article)

When a patient speaks a different language from the physician, important information about prescriptions, tips and advice can be lost. The demand for people who can not only interpret the spoken word but also the medical jargon has risen.

Espi Ralston is a health care interpreter, certificate program instructor and recruiter for the University of Memphis School of Public Health. During two weekends in September, Ralston will teach Level I of the Health Care Interpreter Certificate Course at the college.
She taught this course at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital a few years ago and 15 students enrolled. This course has been taught in Tennessee since 2005, Ralston said.
"And it has been the pioneer and only program of this nature in the entire state until last year, when we helped to establish another program in other areas of Tennessee," she said.
Marian Levy, director of the program of Master of Public Health at the University of Memphis, said this class is for people who are bilingual and bicultural.
"It's an excellent course that enables students to learn the principles and ethics and gain firsthand experience at being an interpreter," she said.
Interpreters play a valuable role, especially in a medical setting, Levy said. For people who don't speak the same language as the doctor, an interpreter increases their access to health care and makes sure the patients understand instructions. Interpreters can voice questions, and that improves health care, she said.
"There has been tremendous demand for medical interpreters," she said. "Graduates have gone on to work at the Med and a variety of hospitals in Shelby County. Espi has trained in Jackson. There is a large need, and interpreters play a critical role."
The course is not language instruction — every student will be screened to be sure he or she is advanced in speaking and understanding other languages, Ralston said.
This class is one of 10 programs across the country. The training program was developed by Kaiser Permanente and disseminated by "Hablamos Juntos," a national project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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