The healthcare interpreting profession has changed dramatically over the years. Heightened public awareness, demographic shifts, technology, national standards, new regulations, and financial pressure have affected the way healthcare providers ensure language access for their patients. It is in response to this progression that CCHI developed and operates a national credentialing and certification program for healthcare interpreters to provide an assurance of competency.
CCHI is the first organization certifying healthcare interpreters to receive accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in June 2012. The NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. NCCA has been accrediting certifying programs based on the highest quality standards in professional certification to ensure these programs adhere to modern standards of practice in the certification industry.
NCCA accredited the CHI™-Spanish Certification affirming that the exam was developed in compliance with the NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA accreditation is recognition of the rigor with which CCHI has established its certification, consistent with certification standards for comparable professionals working both in the healthcare sector (nurse practitioners, critical care nurses, occupational therapists, etc.) and outside (financial planners, personal trainers, etc.).
CCHI defines a certified entry-level healthcare interpreter as “a person who is able to perform the functions of an entry-level healthcare interpreter competently and independently in a healthcare setting with the knowledge, skill and ability required to relay messages accurately from a source language to a target language in a culturally responsive manner and in accordance with established ethical standards.”
The exam specifications are constructed based on the data generated from a national survey – the Job Task Analysis (JTA) Study conducted in 2009. About 2,500 practicing interpreters, interpreter services managers, healthcare providers, and interpreter trainers participated in the JTA:
- The JTA Study appropriately and accurately identified the tasks performed by entry-level healthcare interpreters, and the knowledge, skills, abilities required to perform those tasks.
- The JTA data is consistent across subgroups and represents the breadth of the profession.
- The healthcare interpreter profession is very consistent in the tasks performed on the job.
As a healthcare provider, you understand that healthcare interpreting is not just word-for-word translation. It is much more complex. The CCHI exams assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of healthcare interpreters in two steps (See our Test Content Outline).
1. The Core Certification Healthcare Interpreter™ (CoreCHI™) is the entry point into professional certification for healthcare interpreters regardless of the language(s) in which they interpret. CoreCHI™ is THE one certification every interpreter of every language needs to have and can have today. This certification tests medical interpreters of any language on the core professional knowledge as well as critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and cultural responsiveness skills needed to perform the interpreter's duties in any healthcare setting. It focuses on the role of the healthcare interpreter and measures the interpreter’s knowledge, abilities and skills related to:
- universal protocols and safety precautions,
- being a partner in a patient’s care team,
- culturally-determined patient’s behavior which may negatively impact the outcome of the healthcare encounter,
- ethical decision-making,
- U.S. health care system and medical terminology, etc.
2. Once a healthcare interpreter passes the CoreCHI™ exam, they are eligible to apply for a language-specific certification, the Certified Healthcare Interpreter™ (CHI™), in one or more languages. Currently, the language-specific certification is available in Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin. The CHI™ exam is an oral performance exam which measures interpreting skills that are required to perform competently in any situation in any healthcare setting.
For example, we assess candidates’ simultaneous interpreting skills because any interpreter is expected to be able to interpret in the Emergency Department or for an emotionally distressed patient with the same level of accuracy and completeness as they do in any other situation. Accurate communication is vital for the patient’s safety in such cases. Employing or contracting CCHI-certified interpreters for patients with limited English proficiency is a safety and quality assurance measure.