Saturday, January 18, 2014

RSC Offers Spanish Medical Interpreting Class

Angela Felix, Languages Faculty Chair
at Rio Salado College
When does “bad eye” mean that you need glasses, and when does it mean you were cursed? Saying “mal de ojo” in Spanish is literally translated as "bad eye." However, when you take cultural expression into consideration, it can also mean you are very sick.

The difference between the two translations can have important consequences.

“Communication is key, especially in an emergency room situation where there are life and death situations,” said Angela Felix, Rio Salado College’s faculty chair for languages. “This is where cultural knowledge is critical because there is an increase in the number of people needing quality medical care, and receiving the correct information in Spanish.”

Providing the correct information is the basis for two classes offered by Rio Salado College: SPA205 - Spanish for Medical Interpretation I, and SPA206 - Spanish for Medical Interpretation II

The content from the two classes just received accreditation from the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).

SPA205 introduces Spanish interpretation for medical interpreters and covers a code of ethics, national standards and medical interpreter's responsibilities as well as cultural awareness and legal issues.

In SPA206, students learn medical vocabulary relating to human anatomy and physiology.

“There is no real degree for medical interpreters, yet employers are looking for workers with some academic validation,” Felix said.

The course content was originally developed by the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which partnered with Rio Salado in 2007 to make its curriculum available online for both hospital staff and the public.

Classes are geared to students who already have Spanish language skills but need the medical terminology and medical interpretation training.

“This training is perfect for students who are bilingual but don’t know what career path to follow,” Felix said. “The most important thing to know is that students don’t have to have a medical background to take these classes. We will teach them the terminology and how to manage interpretive encounters.”

Students who successfully complete SPA205 and SPA206 as part of the Certificate of Completion in Spanish Medical Interpreting through the Maricopa Community Colleges’ Southwest Skill Center will qualify for an externship opportunity.

“Externships are typically done in hospitals because they have the greatest need and are the largest employers of medical interpreters,” Felix said. “Students will often get hired at the place of their externship.”

In addition to the externship opportunity, Felix said the online classes benefit students by being affordable and accessible, and most importantly, because the content has been vetted by local and national medical professionals.

“People don’t think of coming to a community college for this level of training, which would normally be offered at a graduate level at a university,” Felix said. “There is nothing locally that is comparable to what Rio Salado is offering, at this cost and with the flexibility of our Monday start dates.”

Students who take SPA 205/206 can also apply those credits to Rio Salado’s Academic Certificate in Language Studies or the Academic Certificate in Spanish and Spanish Culture.