The 40 Hour Conundrum: 40 hours does not make a professional

Let me know what your thoughts are about what can be done to professionalize medical interpreting education.

Certified Medical/Healthcare Interpreter

It is time for medical interpreting education to catch up to the times.

According to a seminal study conducted and led by Dr. Flores (Flores et al., 2003), common medical interpreter errors include the following: (a) omission, (b) false fluency, (c) substitution, (d) editorializing/distortion, and (e) addition. Flores’ subsequent study in 2012 showed that medical interpreters with at least 100 hours of training made fewer errors overall, and made fewer errors of consequence. “These findings suggest that requiring at least 100 hours of training for interpreters may have a major impact on reducing interpreter errors and their consequences in healthcare, while improving quality and patient safety” (Flores, Abreu, Barone, Bachur, & Lin, 2012). This was in 2012. Did anyone pay attention? Apparently not, as 40 hour courses are still the minimum training requirement in the US.

Other countries have higher requirements. In Japan, for example, most medical interpreter…

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