Becoming a Certified Medical Interpreter

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If you have considered becoming a Certified Medical Interpreter you have probably heard of the two national certification organizations: the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).

The prerequisites for both certifications are similar. Before applying you should be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, proof of proficiency in English and another language, and have completed at least 40 hours of medical interpreter training.  They also require that you complete a written and oral assessment.  The written assessment will test your knowledge of interpreter standards of practice, medical terminology, the role of a medical interpreter, and ethics, while the oral assessment will assess your interpretation skills.

As medical interpreters, we follow the National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care. Although memorizing these standards and ethical requirements will help in preparation for the assessment, using solid techniques for good ethical decision making is the key to passing the written assessment and preparing for a professional career as a medical interpreter.

One of the standards of practice is the tenet of accuracy, imperative to facilitating communication between parties. Consecutive interpretation is the most accurate and preferred mode of interpretation for the medical setting and comprises the majority of the oral assessment for both certification organizations.  Aside from a strong linguistic foundation, good memory and note taking skills are crucial to avoiding omissions, additions, or substitutions during a consecutive interpretation.  Another mode of interpretation tested by both organizations is sight translation, which entails taking written text in one language and rendering it orally in another language.


40 Hour

Intensive Medical Interpreter Training

A course like MasterWord Services’ 40-hour Intensive Medical Interpreter Course will satisfy the prerequisite and prepare you for the assessments by providing knowledge of the most effective models for ethical decision making, cross-cultural interpreting, medical terminology, and how to navigate the US healthcare system.

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