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IMIA Sets Continuing Education Standards for Medical Interpreters Worldwide

BOSTON, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) announced its capability to accredit workshops to provide Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for medical interpreters, in all languages worldwide. The organization sets this as a concrete step to professionalize medical interpreters. "Being able to attend continuing education courses and getting CEUs will allow us not only to keep up with the developments in our field but also gain more recognition within the medical community," said Sara Samaniego, medical interpreter. IMIA took this leadership role in initiating a CEU Program specifically for the medical interpreters as it is going to be a requirement to maintain national certification. As the only national and international trade association by and for medical interpreters, it seems the IMIA is an appropriate "home" for a CEU Program. "We followed the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) model, which has been in place for decades. If it has worked for them, I am confident that it will work well for us as well," stated Anita Coelho Diabate, recently appointed IMIA Vice President.

The IMIA has had great success with its National Medical Interpreter Educational Registry, where training organizations post their training programs, and where future interpreter students can search for medical interpreter educational programs by state, country, language, or type as a public service (see This registry includes a limited list of continuing educational workshops, delivered online or in person. This new development is aimed at incentivizing more training programs to offer continuing education workshops or courses in addition to their basic programs, so that practicing medical interpreters have more options.

This initiative is also linked to national certification, which will have a five-year cycle. In order for an interpreter to be recertified, their only requirement will be to successfully complete 3.0 CEUs (the equivalent of 30 hours of instruction) within the five-year period, which translates to six hours per year or any other combination desired. In order for this requirement not to place a monetary or access burden on medical interpreters, the IMIA is simultaneously launching an IMIA Lifelong Learner Series Initiative, offering two-hour webinar workshops every four months at no cost to its members. This will provide interpreters worldwide with the opportunity to participate in up to four educational workshops a year, exceeding the certification requirement. "The IMIA has been promoting lifelong learning as a core value of our organization for over 20 years now. We did not want cost, language, or area to negatively affect the access of continuing education opportunities for interpreters who speak minority languages, or live in rural areas," said Izabel Arocha, President of the IMIA.

"Some might wonder, why institute a CEU program when national training standards still don't exist? Because that is what the practicing interpreters who have already been trained need in order to maintain their skills and qualify for future recertification. Standards documents tend to be prescriptive and act more as guidelines for the field. This is an implementable standard that was developed by interpreters for interpreters. Also, this initiative refers to post-training requirements, not basic training requirements. Last, if we look closely at our already published multiple standards of practice, there are several guidelines useful to training organizations -- on linguistic proficiency, general education, competencies to be mastered, and even ethical decision principles to be ascribed and the commitment to continuing education -- so this program is in complete congruence with previously published work."

About the IMIA

The International Medical Interpreters Association is committed to the advancement of professional medical interpreters as the best practice to equitable language access to health care for linguistically diverse patients. Founded in 1986, with over 1,500 members, most providing interpreting services in over 70 languages, the IMIA is the oldest and largest medical interpreter association in the country. While representing medical interpreters as the experts in medical interpreting, membership to the IMIA is open to those interested in medical interpreting and language access. We currently have a division of providers, corporate members, and trainers. Policymakers, health care administrators, and others interested in medical interpreting are also welcome to join us as associate members.


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SOURCE International Medical Interpreters Association

SOURCE International Medical Interpreters Association
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