Certifications for Medical Interpreters: A Comparative Analysis

Certifications for Medical Interpreters: A Comparative Analysis

Izabel E. T. de V. Souza
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9308-9.ch002
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Four countries offer specialized interpreter certification programs that take into account the needs of the healthcare market: Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States. This chapter provides an overview, analysis, and comparison of these certification programs by which specialized medical interpreters can demonstrate minimum standards of performance. This chapter reviews several components of five certification schemes: 1) pre-requisites, 2) knowledge areas, 3) skills areas, 4) language combinations, and 5) certification maintenance. The comparisons reveal similar approaches to interpreter certification with a few significant variations. These common elements form the basis for a substantive international equivalence and comparability. At a closer look, each scheme reveals different solutions to the shared challenges. This chapter ends with recommendations for any ongoing or future interpreter certification program and for interpreting stakeholders.
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Terminology Matters

As with any subject, terminology matters. Terminology is simply a common language, nomenclature, classification, or taxonomy designed to be shared among users to ensure that we all understand the concepts as intended by the originator of the message. In the certification and assessment fields, specific terminology is utilized and often confused by laypersons. This is why the author decided to provide a list of the most common terms and definitions related to ‘certification’ at the end of the chapter, in order to aid the reader in understanding the text. It may be useful for professional groups that are thinking of establishing their own certification programs. Alternate terms are given in italics. Note that the term ‘testing’ or ‘tests’ will not be used in this chapter. The purpose of most tests is to assign grades to students. They offer limited diagnostic information to identify areas for improvement. The term assessment is a more comprehensive concept. An assessment may be a test or an exam that is intended to measure a test taker’s knowledge, skills, aptitude, or physical ability. While laypersons use the term test and exam interchangeably, ‘exam’ usually refers to a mid-term or a final exam, whereas ‘test’ can be given at any point in time to measure knowledge of a learning module, for example. For this reason, the term ‘exam’ will be used in this chapter (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2008).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Credential: the official document and acronym issued by the certifying body that attests to the certificant receiving the certification credential

Validity: refers to an exam’s results’ accuracy, that it measures what they are intended to measure

Examiner: qualified person who administers an exam

Inter-Rater Reliability: the degree of agreement among raters (Inter-rater concordance)

Competence: the knowledge, attitudes, and skills required of a particular role or activity

Rater: qualified person who scores an exam

Certification maintenance: the post-certification requirements in order to maintain the credential provided by the certifying program (Recertification)

Assessment: refers to the process of determining a person’s competence for a particular type of employment

Fairness: refers to providing equal unbiased opportunity to each candidate in the process ( equity, parity )

Qualifications: demonstrated education, training, work experience, or credentials

Reliability: the consistency of exam administration and scoring

Pathways: refers to alternative ways to achieve the certification credential

Certification Program: a process, with several components, that offers an independent assessment of the required knowledge and skills for the minimally competent performance of a professional role (Accreditation program)

Proctor: qualified person who monitors candidates during an exam

Certificant: person who has fulfilled all the requirements to receive a certification credential (Credentialed professional)

Psychometrics: standard and scientific method used to assess and measure suitability for a role

Subject Matter Expert (SME): qualified practitioner who is an expert in a particular area or topic

Certification body: an organization or division of a non-profit organization that administers certification, having the authority to make all the decisions for a certification program

Psychometric assessment: assessment that uses psychometric standards and scientific methods used to measure suitability for a role

Exam: the testing component of a certification program that tests the knowledge and/or skills

Appeals process: process by which an applicant, candidate or certificant may request the certification body to re-examine or reconsider any decision

Verification: act of examining evidential proof of accuracy or truth

Grace period: additional time given to certificants, beginning from the date of expiration to allow certificants additional time to recertify

Certification scheme: the design and organization of all the components of a certification program

Job Analysis: the first step of a psychometric assessment of gathering and analyzing information about the content and the human requirements for a specific professional role in the setting(s) in which it is performed (Task analysis)

Grandfathering: a pathway designed for those who were trained or tested prior to a certification program

Preceptor: a qualified person who monitors a candidate during a practicum.

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