Special Populations Collaborative

Effective Practices for Limited English Proficient Students

Mt. San Antonio College Health Care Interpreting Program

Title: Health Care Interpreting Program

College: Mt. San Antonio College

San Francisco City College

Contact: Jesus Oliva, Mt. San Antonio College 909-594-5611 x6108 orjoliva@mtsac.edu

Tim Berthold, San Francisco City College 415-452-5266 ortberthol@ccsf.edu

Target population served: Bilingual/bicultural students who want to gain employment as interpreters in health care settings.

Goals: To understand and apply linguistic and cultural interpretation in healthcare settings for specific populations.

Description: The Health Care Interpreter program is a 10-month non-credit certificate program for students who are proficient in English (spoken and written) and their native language. Students focus on topics such as medical terminology, physiology, and the ethical decisions and possible scenarios that an interpreter must resolve. In the last semester of the program, each student must complete a 54-hour externship with a local hospital.

The need for the program arose when a study of patient care errors showed that bilingual and bicultural residents were not getting accurate or culturally appropriate medical information within a health care setting. By providing accurate information to patients, hospitals have found that patients are better prepared to manage and monitor their own health, and that overall health care costs are reduced.

A curriculum was developed in 2001 as part of the College’s Welcome Back Program. This year, the program will update the curricula using a DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) process and will add enhanced materials including an instructional CD and video.

Staffing: Part-time faculty member

Facilities, equipment, materials: Classrooms, office space

Costs, funding source: Grant from The California Endowment for Curriculum Development, and ADA.

Outreach and marketing: When the program began in 2001, it was advertised in the Penny Saver (mailed to households within the region). Over 150 students applied as a result. Afterwards, word-of-mouth was used to promote the program, resulting in over 100 applicants each year (the program can accept 60 students each year).

Evidence of effectiveness: Demand for admission into the program remains high. Starting salaries of graduates begin at $17 per hour. Graduates can continue their studies into other related health occupations such as Medical Court Interpreting, where salaries average $55-60 per hour. Hospitals that have employed program graduates have reported a reduction in lab/testing procedures for non-English speaking patients due to high quality and accurate doctor patient interpretation services. Administration of medications and post-hospital follow-up care has also improved because interpreters are able to communicate medical instructions in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate to non-English speaking patients.

Examples of successful graduates include the Project Manager of the Health Care Interpreter Program, “Access to Linguistically Appropriate Services,” for the Los Angeles County Health Department; a full time Health Care Interpreter at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, an Interpreter for the Chino Unified School District, a Language Lab Coach for the HCI Program at Mt. San Antonio College and two full time nurses who used the program as a preparatory course for exposure and knowledge of the medical system while pursuing their Nursing Boards.

Suggestions for replication:

¨ Provide counseling and guidance on an on-going basis for students. Present positive role models and stories of success so that students can develop a positive outlook and goal-oriented strategy to gain high-wage high-skill employment.

¨ Create and nurture partnerships early on with local hospitals and other health care industries to garner and manage resources, create a strong student-employer connection, and keep the program responsive to employer needs.