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When it comes to the world of healthcare, everything is a little more complex, and almost every aspect of each medical profession requires rigorous training — this is even true for medical interpreters. In order to become an interpreter, at a minimum you must be fluent in the language, but consider this: is it uncommon for the average person to struggle with medical terminology, even when it is in their native tongue? A non-certified, freelance interpreter would also have trouble understanding, let alone interpreting, the long and confusing terms for different symptoms, medications, treatments, and conditions. Even if a qualified interpreter has a depth of knowledge of medical terms and jargon, certification is optimal it is a standardized method that provides proof of your knowledge and qualifications.

Why Are Medical Interpreters Important?
Aside from the technicalities of being able to interpret and properly pronounce the vernacular of medical professionals, medical interpreters must embody other qualities that other interpreters do not. For example, part of working this field requires a certain level of sensitivity such as complying with HIPAA laws. Discovering health issues is a scary event, and it is the duty of a good healthcare provider to lessen this anxiety and fear for the sake of the patient. As an interpreter, you are also communicating one on one with the patient, the same thoughtfulness needs to show through. Additionally, many times healthcare interpreters must act as advocates on behalf of the patients they are working with – this is a unique aspect found only in the healthcare and community segments of interpreting.

What are the Options?
The first step in the process of becoming certified is understanding the two different organizations that are recognized as nationally certifying bodies. The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters offers the Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI) designation, and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters offers both the Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI) and Core Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CCHI) designation. Each program not only has different prerequisites and training, but they also offer certification for different languages, so it is vital that you understand the process of both. For interpreters, many seek dual certification from both groups so long as the test is available in their language.

What are the Prerequisites?
Both programs have the same basic eligibility requirements for certification. In order to become eligible you must be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and be fluent in English and the language you wish to interpret. While these facets of eligibility are the same, the proficiency requirements and testing differ based on the certification platform the interpreter chooses:

The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters
If you choose to become a CMI, you must meet the prerequisites that are drawn up in their handbook — this can be found online in virtual or purchasable form — and pass the written and oral exam. Registering for these exams is extremely simple when you visit the NBCMI’s website where you will find a link to the registration instructions. Everything can be done online including your nonrefundable payment of $35, the application, and the proper documentation of proof of prerequisites. NBCMI Website

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters
One of the conveniences of going through the commission is their amazing guided, virtual certification process. On their website, they take you through everything systematically from the breakdown of the requirements to the final testing. Everything is at your fingertips with commission — the only aspect you need to decide on is if the results of this certification are what you are looking for compared to NBCMI. Commission Website

The process of becoming a medical interpreter all starts with you and your passion for language. If you are proficient in multiple languages, you could be putting your skills to good use and helping others; you are unique in being capable of bringing together different cultures for better understanding and communication. If you want to reach a higher level of standards in the field of medical interpreting, then national medical certification is the way to go.

Medical certification not only provides a standardized level of quality in the healthcare field, but it also advances the profession of interpretation and helps to create a professional standard in the eyes of the public. Additionally, knowing that your linguist is certified and what that means in the healthcare field can help you feel comfortable with the knowledge that your interpreter knows how to do their job.

Need a medically certified interpreter for an assignment? Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is available 24/7 and offers interpreters in over 350 languages nationwide, including medically certified interpreters. Call us today at 1-877-567-8449!

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