UTPA to offer Medical Interpreter Training Seminar
Posted: 07/23/2010
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Ample medical research findings show that language barriers impede access to health care, compromise quality of care, and increase the risk of adverse health outcomes among patients with limited English proficiency.

Dr. Glenn Martinez

The 2000 census revealed that there were 17.5 million adults and 3.4 million school age children with limited English proficiency in the United States. In the Valley, where a high percentage of Spanish-speaking patients are treated mostly by non-Spanish speaking physicians, there is a significant need to address these language barriers.

To help alleviate this situation, The University of Texas-Pan American has designed a 40-hour continuing education course to bridge this very gap. The Medical Interpreter Training Seminar aims at minimizing the effects of language barrier by preparing medical personnel for the hundreds of Spanish-speaking interactions they face daily.

"UTPA is committed to a comprehensive and forceful response to health disparities in the Rio Grande Valley. Through this course we want to make sure that everyone who provides translations in medical settings has the language skills and technical knowledge needed to ensure effective communication," said course instructor Dr. Glenn Martinez, chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literature and director of the Medical Spanish program at UTPA.

This seminar, offered through the Office of Continuing Education, will also give participants the tools necessary to get certified with The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. This certification is a credential recognized nationwide assuring that interpreters have knowledge in medical terminology, medical interpreter ethics, and cultural competence.

Martinez and the course's other instructor, Jose Castro, M.D., who also teaches Medical Spanish at UTPA, both have years of experience in Medical Spanish course instruction and are considered high-level subject matter experts bringing the best in their fields of medicine and linguistics to the course.

Martinez said the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters offered its first exam in 2009 and California, Washington and Oregon already require certification for all medical interpreters. He expects other states, including Texas, will soon follow.

The two-week intensive course will involve in-class lectures held at the UTPA McAllen Teaching Site from Aug. 23-Sept. 3 from 5-9 p.m. Monday-Friday.

To make it convenient for participants, some course materials will also be made available online. Visit to take advantage of group and early bird registration fees. Call (956)381-2071 or e-mail for further questions or for special accommodations.