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Certified Medical Spanish Interpreter transitioning to RN

Students   (243 Views | 9 Replies)
by Gabriel J Gabriel J (New) New

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Hello, 

I'm currently a nationally certified Spanish medical interpreter closing in on taking my NCLEX to be an RN with plans to go on to be an NP

Anyone else a medical interpreter or rather a former one? How did you use that to improve your job acquisition outcome? Did you get paid anymore for speaking multiple languages? I speak some Italian and Portuguese too. I hear nurses all the time tell me they speak Spanish but aren't allowed to speak it (hence I am their interpreter),  which horrifies me since that is my leg up on many. I see registration staff and financial counselors with "Hablo espa~ol" on their id badges but never nurses or NPs with that on their badges.  

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JBMmom has 6 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care.

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I don't have any experience, but I think that will be a very valuable skill as a RN. I've thought about getting some Spanish training myself because I would be more comfortable if I could communicate better with some patients. However, if my area we have had spanish, french creole, portuguese, mandarin and arabic speaking patients, so I guess I'll never be able to communicate with everyone. I love the translator iPad. Good luck!

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JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

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At many facilities, you have to pass a medical Spanish test regardless of your role in order to be qualified to officially have that Hablo Espanol on your badge. Even for people whose first language might be Spanish.

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klone has 14 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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Per CMS, every patient is entitled to a QUALIFIED medical interpreter for things like informed consent and patient education (well, they're entitled to it for everything, but nurses who are fluent but not necessarily qualified to be an interpreter are allowed to speak to patients for basic things). So, while I can speak to my patient in Spanish for things like explaining how to order food, or how to sit properly for an epidural placement, I cannot obtain a consent for blood products or give discharge teaching without an interpreter. Being fluent or it being your native language does not make you qualified to be a medical interpreter until you've taken and passed some type of exam that qualifies you.

That's why most nurses don't do medical interpretation.

 

Edited by klone

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CalicoKitty has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Med-surg.

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At some hospitals, if you are bilingual/translator certified, you are required to be available to translate when requested. I've seen techs do that. The hospital may consider the interpreter role as more important than your primary job, so if someone (anywhere?) needs an interpreter, you'd be expected to go and leave your patients to someone else. It can pull you off of the floor. So, a challenge for nurses.

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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Medical interpreting is not the same as interpreting. You can be certified as a translator, but it won't "count" when it comes to communicating medical information.

Those we hire who are fluent in another language are invited to take an exam to become certified to interpret at our institution. We have people who have spoken Spanish from birth who cannot pass this exam. We do pay those who pass and go on to become certified a little more money. 

This is why you see people who communicate finance and other types of issues as being allowed to utilize their language skills during their employment, but nurses, techs, respiratory therapists, etc may be technically fluent but still need a certified medical interpreter to do any patient teaching, discharge planning and the like. Obviously your little bit of Italian and Portuguese won't help you here either. 

I hope this helps.

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PollywogNP has 41 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, LPN, NP and specializes in Med-Surg/Tele/ER/Urgent Care.

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I am a FNP &  was a certified Spanish interpreter at a local facility, many staff including RNs/LPNs,RT,PT,etc etc are also certified interpreters but this is near El Paso TX/Mexico border. Spanish is my first language but I did have to take an exam. There are 2 levels of interepreters, the highest level qualified to interpret for consents, physicians, procedures. I became certified so I didn’t have to rely on the receptionist or medical assistant interpreting for me for legal purposes.

In this part of the USA, frequently job ads will say Spanish required for nurses and nurse practitioners. I have interpreted for over 40 years as a nurse but would have to remind other staff frequently that I was hired as a nurse and not as an interpreter so that I did not leave my patients unattended.  If I was not able to interpret due to my patient needs I simply stated that fact.

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, PollywogNP said:

I am a FNP &  was a certified Spanish interpreter at a local facility, many staff including RNs/LPNs,RT,PT,etc etc are also certified interpreters but this is near El Paso TX/Mexico border. Spanish is my first language but I did have to take an exam. There are 2 levels of interepreters, the highest level qualified to interpret for consents, physicians, procedures. I became certified so I didn’t have to rely on the receptionist or medical assistant interpreting for me for legal purposes.

In this part of the USA, frequently job ads will say Spanish required for nurses and nurse practitioners. I have interpreted for over 40 years as a nurse but would have to remind other staff frequently that I was hired as a nurse and not as an interpreter so that I did not leave my patients unattended.  If I was not able to interpret due to my patient needs I simply stated that fact.

 

 

 

Thank you! I love to know I am not the only to start out in medical interpreting :) I started with 3rd party medical spoken Spanish exam through ALTA, then had to take a 40 hour training to be qualified, then was qualified for a national written exam, then passing that was qualified for the spoken national exam to be a nationally certified healthcare interpreter. I do consents now. Will I have to take more Spanish exams as a nurse even though I can't go any higher as an interpreter?

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On 11/11/2019 at 10:52 AM, JBMmom said:

I don't have any experience, but I think that will be a very valuable skill as a RN. I've thought about getting some Spanish training myself because I would be more comfortable if I could communicate better with some patients. However, if my area we have had spanish, french creole, portuguese, mandarin and arabic speaking patients, so I guess I'll never be able to communicate with everyone. I love the translator iPad. Good luck!

Thanks! I'm your "translator ipad", happy to serve you! BTW, translators get paid per word written, interpreters get paid per word spoken. They are two different roles in healthcare, and while I am qualified to interpret, I don't have qualifications to translate.

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PollywogNP has 41 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, LPN, NP and specializes in Med-Surg/Tele/ER/Urgent Care.

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 I was not aware that there were nationally certified medical  Spanish interpreters!  The certification was for this one hospital the exam is given by a professor from the local university. When I was in graduate school for my nurse practitioner, the coordinator of the nurse practitioner program had a grant that stated that 80% of the graduates would be bilingual,  and to accomplish this she informed us in an email that we would have to take a Spanish class that summer that we would have to pay for. We all protested as many of us Spanish is our first language. So she had the Spanish professors create a challenge exam which we all passed. Even in the Navy I interpreted for the ambassador from Chile. But only the local hospitals have recently required that staff wishing to serve as interpreters become certified. 

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