Standards for Training

In May 2011, the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care released National Standards for Healthcare Interpreter Training Programs.  These standards provide guidance for interpreters, educators and administrators on what sort of training healthcare interpreters should receive before entry into practice.

Click here to see the Standards document. 

Why do we need them?
Standards for training programs will help everyone involved with language access in healthcare – trainers, employers, interpreters, and ultimately, the patients and providers who depend on their services.

  • They help curriculum developers know what to include in an interpreter training and which instructional methodologies are most appropriate and effective.
  • They help interpreters know what level of training they are receiving, and give them confidence that the training they are receiving is actually preparing them for the work they will be asked to do.
  • They help employers know what to expect from interpreters who have completed different levels of training.
  • They inform the development of national certification.

Establishing standards for training programs is the fourth of five steps in the National Council’s strategy for advancing the field of healthcare interpreting.

        1. Agreement on the role of the healthcare interpreter

        2. National Code of Ethics

        3. National Standards of Practice

        4. National Standards for Training Programs

        5. National Certification

How were the standards developed?
The standards were developed using a national consensus-building process similar to that used to develop the National Code of Ethics and the National Standards of Practice, with additional advice from experts in relevant fields. 

Here are the steps:

1.  Find out what is already known

The process started with a review of what is known about:

  •  Setting standards for training in other fields.
  •  Effective methods of training.
  •  Healthcare interpreter competencies.

This was done through a literature review of existing healthcare interpreter training programs, an interpreter job analysis, and a series of focus groups held around the country.

2.  Form a Project Advisory Group

A Project Advisory Group was convened, comprising experts with extensive experience in different fields relevant to the training of interpreters.

3.  Draft Standards
The NCIHC Standards, Training and Certification Committee (STC) worked with the Project Advisory Group to draft an initial version of the standards, based on the information gathered.

4.  Get feedback from interpreters, trainers and administrators
Two national on-line surveys – one for interpreters and one for trainers – were used to obtain feedback on the draft standards.

5.  Revise and finalize the Standards
The STC reconvened the Project Advisory Group to review, revise and finalize the standards, based on the survey results.

6.  Disseminate the Standards
Now the Standards are going out to interpreters, trainers, educational institutions, and employers via website, email and hard copy.

How long did the process take?
This development process took over two years.

Where can I get more information?
For updates on the development work, click here 

If you have questions, or if you would like to comment on the Standards, contact the Chair or Vice-chair of NCIHC’s Standards, Training and Certification Committee:

 Katherine Langan, Standards and Training Committee Chair, at klangan@ncihc.org