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Instructor Insight: Medical Interpreter

Instructor Insight: Medical Interpreter

After completing a professional certificate program with our College and starting successful careers, some of our graduates have returned to the classroom to teach the next crop of professionals. Aura Alicia Morales has done just that with our Medical Interpreter program. Here, she shares her experience in the industry and classroom.

How has the Medical Interpreter Certificate helped you in your current career?
The KSU Medical Interpreter Certificate is an important credential I have been able to provide when looking for a job, and it has proven to be effective both when getting hired or promoted and when negotiating wages and terms.  At the moment, I am working for this great company that hired me for my Spanish. I was also very fortunate to be hired by CCPE at KSU to be one of their instructors for the Medical Interpreter course. That certificate, together with the certification from the National Board for the Certification of Medical Interpreters, were certainly a plus.

Alicia Morales, Medical Intepreter InstructorWhat are your future goals with the certificate, especially considering your background as a clinical psychologist?
I have a lot of dreams and more than one project going on in my life right now! Teaching has been a passion for me for many years, and having the opportunity to teach Spanish and Medical Interpreter at CCPE opens a lot of possibilities in that field.  I am expectant to see some of those dreams become tangible realities. My background as a psychologist and as a researcher in intercultural affairs is always going to be with me in everything I do. I would say it helps me analyze information and approach problem-solving from a different perspective, especially when teaching or designing processes where cultural competence is required.

What advice would you give others interested in the Medical Interpreter program?
From my experience, and that of some of the Medical Interpreter [graduates], the certificate actually gets you to stand above the rest when looking for a job or a promotion, even if a person is not exactly working as a medical interpreter. For example, if you work in admissions at a hospital, even if you speak Spanish, you are not allowed to interact in Spanish with the patients. You need to use the interpreting services unless you have a certificate. And that is valid for many other fields of work, especially in customer service.

What other information should those interested in this field be aware of?
A very wise person told me once that having two hands doesn’t make you a pianist.  Similarly, being able to speak two languages doesn’t necessarily mean that one is proficient enough to take on interpreting tasks. That is why I would recommend this course even if a person does not plan to become a medical interpreter. For example, people who are taking care of chronically ill relatives can benefit greatly from knowing the medical terminology, the required ethics and standards of practice, and the “cultural competence” approach we teach.

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