Oregon Healthcare Interpreter Certification process

The Oregon healthcare interpreter certification process is a two-tier process, designed to help interpreters meet the requirements in a gradual way, and also create a path for languages without a certification exam available.

Qualification:

  • Proof of identity: Oregon Driver’s License, or passport.
  • High School diploma or GED
  • 60 hours of training (CCHI and NBCMI require 40 hours)
  • 18 years of age
  • Oral Proficiency testing. Oregon requires that interpreters pass the test at the Intermediate high level. However, the National Board will require that interpreters pass at the Advanced Mid level to qualify for the exam (see point 5 on the list on this page). Please be aware of this difference as you prepare for the certification exams! The National Council for Interpreting in Health Care, in its National Standards for Healthcare Interpreter Training Programs, published in April of 2011,  recommends that students of a training program demonstrate an oral proficiency of Advanced High on the ACTFL scale  in both working languages. (see page 29 of this document) (having documentation of court interpreting certification is proof of oral proficiency)

The above requirements are all prerequisites for the NBCMI and CCHI certification exams as well, with the exception that the language proficiency required by the National Board is higher than the language proficiency required by Oregon. See this page for the National Board requirements and see page 14 of this page for the CCHI requirements.

This blog post compares the two exams…

The following requirements are specific to Oregon:

  • Not being on the Medicare Exclusion list. This is a common requirement at the national level for interpreters who work in the healthcare field.
  • Submitting a fee and and a form to the OHA (the form is on this page)
  • 40 hours of health care interpreting experience

Valid for 3 years. Non renewable for languages in which there is a certification exam.

Certification:

  • All the previous requirements, plus:
  • Additional 40 hours of health care  interpreting experience (total of 80)
  • Pass skills test of interpreting, through certification exam by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters or the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (see this post on the exams and how to prepare for them)
  • Submission of fee and application form (see this page)

Valid for 3 years. Renewable upon submission of continuing education credits.

The National Council Standards on Training state that there cannot be a guideline for how long introductory training programs should be. “The class hours needed to learn the content identified in the standards will depend on a number of factors, including the training program’s resources and the characteristics of the pool of potential students, including their prior interpreting experience, specialized knowledge of healthcare, and general level of education….”

Therefore, after an initial 60 hour training program and oral proficiency testing, participants are encouraged to continue their training by honing their skills in consecutive interpreting, sight translation, and simultaneous interpreting in preparation to pass the certification exams.

To do this, Gaucha recommends the following steps:

Working in small groups to discuss articles from the Merck Manual in both English and the non-English language, giving presentations and creating role-plays based on the research done. Those resources are found on this page.

Reading in English and the non-English language every day. This reading should not be limited to reading medical topics such as the Merck Manual, but reading the news from Mexico, from an online news source such as El Universal, for example. For Spanish, Gaucha recommends a Mexican paper simply because 80% of the immigrants to the United States come from Mexico. Reading the newspaper helps the interpreter become familiar with topics of daily life that also come up in daily discussions.

Writing a paragraph in the non-English language once a week and sharing it with a colleague for feedback, seeking ways to improve each other’s writing. Of course, seeking a formal evaluation of one’s written skills is helpful, to get a benchmark, since interpreters often write in the course of their work! Stronger written proficiency will lead to stronger oral proficiency, which will lead to stronger interpreting skills.

The Oregon Healthcare Interpreter law is going through some review, but the essential elements will remain in place. These elements that lead to quality interpreting will remain the same.

Gaucha will look for ways to develop some workshops on skills to supplement the required 60 hour trainings, to help interpreters prepare for the certification exams, possibly in collaboration with others.