CCRI to offer Health Care Interpreter certificate program this fall


To help meet the anticipated need for medical interpreters, the Community College of Rhode Island will offer a revised Health Care Interpreter certificate program this fall.

In a hospital, a language barrier between doctor and patient can have disastrous consequences. That is why the Joint Commission, which accredits health care organizations, will increasingly require hospitals to have a certified medical interpreter on staff at all times.

An informational meeting about the program, designed to teach students who are bilingual in English and Spanish necessary medical/health care information and terminology, will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7 in Room 0028 at the Knight Campus, 400 East Ave., Warwick.

“There is going to be an increasing need for health care interpreters within our state,” said CCRI Nursing Department Chair Hilary Jansson. She cited not only the stricter requirements for hospitals to provide interpreting services, but also Rhode Island’s increasing Spanish-speaking population as reasons.

Students in CCRI’s program will take three courses over two semesters, with 45 hours of on-site training throughout the year. This fall, students will shadow a trained interpreter for 15 hours and will spend 30 hours as an interpreter under supervision next spring.

Professors in the college’s Nursing and Foreign Language departments will provide classroom instruction in both Spanish and English, covering subjects such as medical terminology, health care and interpreting practices.

Prospective students must pass an oral test in Spanish and the college’s ACCUPLACER test for reading comprehension and basic writing in English – or successfully pass CCRI courses in writing and composition – before being admitted to the program.

“It’s critical to make sure that people are very proficient in Spanish and English because they’re going to be interpreting health care,” Jansson said.

Graduates will be eligible to take the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters exam. Jansson said graduates who pass this exam should be eligible for either part-time or full-time jobs in hospitals or other health care facilities. Students also can use the credits they earn in the CCRI certificate program toward an associate degree.

This is the first time the CCRI Health Care Interpreter certificate program has been run in several years, after undergoing revision and being reduced to two semesters. Jansson said Spanish is the only language offered at this time, but she anticipates that the program will expand to other languages in future years if it is successful.

For more information, email Associate Director of Admissions Rob Giovino at


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