Monday, May 23, 2011

National Council on Interpreting in Health Care Holds 5th Annual Membership Meeting

I created this blog during the 2010 holidays and have kept it in 'survival' mode.
However, surviving is not what this blog is intended for. Now that the school year is over and many professional associations’ annual conferences have taken place, I will be reporting more frequently on events that contribute to the development of translation and interpretation in the US.
My first of these postings is to congratulate the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) for a very successful 5th Annual membership meeting – the first for this blogger.  Held in New Orleans, May 19-20, 2011 just days after releasing its National Standards for Healthcare Interpreting Training Programs, the meeting was one where members truly got the opportunity to express their views on a wide array of topics. Of course, an important piece was the presentation of the standards of training, along with a checklist reflecting the three main areas included in them (knowledge, skills, and programmatic issues) as a tool for all interested parties to assess training programs. Ideally, NCIHC will remain open to suggestions to improve and update these standards as interpreting in healthcare evolves
Two other activities stood out during this 5th membership meeting: the Language Access Café and the Work Groups. The former provided members with the opportunity to learn about and provide feedback on aspects of language access in contexts as diverse as emergency and disaster response, pharmacy services, medical home services, mental health, and end of life. It is easy to forget how important language access is in moments of crises. First responders, for example, have only a few minutes before rushing a patient to a hospital or healthcare center. Language barriers make their task even more challenging. The Work Groups at the NCIHC meeting provided an outstanding opportunity for members to provide feedback on NCIHC projects such as certification, training for trainers, policy, and technology.
As I indicated in a previous posting, NCIHC has a five-step strategy to contribute to the development of the healthcare interpreting profession; the fifth step being certification. Certification in court interpreting came before education and training. This was how the urgent need for qualified interpreters was addressed, but it seems that NCIHC has taken the time to analyze alternative ways to go about it and has come to the conclusion that certification should come after education. As an educator, it only makes sense to me that certification, i.e. testing, should come after education and training.

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