The Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate is an interdisciplinary program administered by the FSU School of Communication. The interdisciplinary program coordinates a series of required and electives courses offered through the FSU College of Medicine, the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (Division of Spanish) and the School of Communication. The Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate features a required capstone practicum, placing students in a College of Medicine clinical training site.
In 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services developed the Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS). CLAS mandates language access services for all recipients of federal funds. This includes virtually all health providers since most accept Medicaid, Medicare and other federal funds.
The CLAS requirements are also notable since there is ample evidence that in the United States, racial and ethnic minorities suffer serious health disparities. Hispanics, the largest ethnic minority group in Florida and the U.S., in particular face language and cultural barriers when seeking and receiving health care. These barriers can:
- inhibit patients’ attempts to access and utilize health services,
- limit the effectiveness of medical diagnoses and treatments,
- diminish patients’ trust in and satisfaction with the health care they receive, and
- ultimately reduce patients’ adherence to and benefits from medical services.
The Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate program is designed to provide Spanish speaking students with training in medical terminology, cultural issues in medicine, communication, and healthcare interpreter skills. The goal is to help prepare students for Medical Spanish Interpreter positions in health facilities, where interpreters accurately and effectively facilitate communication between healthcare providers and Spanish speaking patients/consumers.
The certificate also is intended to help prepare students who wish to pursue further accreditation from the Certification Commission for HealthCare Interpreters (CCHI), and/or the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (CMI), a division of the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), 2
Students who complete this undergraduate certificate will be certified as linguistically competent in English and Spanish, and will receive training that will help them prepare for written and oral tests that are required for national certification. The certificate will include training in:
- an introduction to the profession of healthcare interpreting,
- the culture of U.S. health care,
- multicultural health care issues and health disparities,
- collaborative work with interdisciplinary healthcare teams,
- key health care issues and information,
- medical vocabulary, including symptoms, basic anatomy /physiology, diseases, diagnostic procedures, treatments, prescriptions, medication side-effects, referrals and follow-up routines,
- ethics, laws, standards, regulations and liability issues relevant to healthcare interpreting
- communication and language elements, including figurative versus literal language, accuracy and paraphrasing, the negotiation of the meaning of words in the healthcare context,
- culture and interpersonal elements, including issues of relative power /status, acceptable forms of interpersonal address, cultural politeness, verbal and non-verbal (body language) exchanges,
- consecutive and simultaneous healthcare interpreting skills, sight translation of healthcare documents,
- healthcare interpreting resources, and
- continuing professional development.
The F.S.U. Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate is available effective summer, 2014. The certificate is administered by Dr. Gary Heald.
Gary Heald, Ph.D.
School of Communication
For Additional Information.
The Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate is not intended as a diploma or a degree.
Students who have been accepted into Florida State University may apply for the Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate by completing the application form and contacting Dr.Gary Heald, School of Communication. After completing the application, students will be interviewed by a faculty member in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Division of Spanish to confirm both English and Spanish language qualifications.
Students who currently do not meet the Spanish language requirements may be advised to take SPN 3350, Spanish for Heritage Speakers.
This is a limited enrollment certificate program. This certificate requires that applicants be experienced Spanish speakers, who are familiar with written and conversational Spanish, including common idioms and nuances of the Spanish language. In most cases the applicants will be native, heritage speakers who have been evaluated by the F.S.U. Spanish department and deemed to have an appropriate level of proficiency.
NOTE: Students should apply and be admitted into the certificate program in advance of beginning the coursework.
Individuals admitted to the certificate program must be currently enrolled as upper division (Junior / Senior) students at Florida State University. Students admitted into the certificate program will have and must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all F.S.U. course work.
Program of Studies
This certificate requires the completion of a minimum of four courses and a required practicum (21 credit hours). The courses are typically available in lecture (on-campus formats) and a few are available online. The required practicum will be completed at a College of Medicine training site in South Florida. The practicum will be completed working in coordination with FSU College of Medicine faculty, medical students and postdoctoral fellows.
Depending on the students’ specific degree program, the courses in the Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate program may be applied towards completion of the students’ undergraduate degree requirements. Students should consult their advisors to determine if the certificate program classes can also be used in their specific programs.
Recommended Course Sequence (see Appendix A for course descriptions)
Semesters 1 – 4, complete 4 courses:
Complete the following two courses:
SPN 4036 – Medical Interpretation (3 credit hrs.) 4
SPN 4420 – Advanced Spanish Composition and Translation (3 credit hrs.)
Complete two courses from the following options:
SPC 2730 – Global Perspectives: Communication (3 credit hrs.)
SPC 4710 – Interracial / Intercultural Communication (3 credit hrs.)
ADV 3410 – Hispanic Marketing Communication (3 credit hrs.)
ADV 4411 – Multicultural Marketing Communication (3 credit hrs.)
Complete medical interpreter practicum:
IHS 4943 – Medical Interpreter Practicum (9 credit hrs.)
Note: The practicum will be scheduled and coordinated by:
College of Medicine
(850) 644-5323, and
Elena Reyes, Ph.D.
Regional Director, Southwest Florida
Immokalee Health Education Site
1441 Heritage Blvd
Immokalee, Florida 34142
(239) 658-3087, Office
The expected number of students for year one is “5” and for year five is “15” students.
Students must complete the approved certificate courses with a grade point average (G.P.A.) of 3.00 and no grade lower than a “B-.” The courses and practicum must be completed within a three-year period.
Upon successful completion of the program of studies, students are required to complete a certificate request form, available online and in the main office of the School of Communication on the 3rd floor of UCC. Students will receive a Medical Spanish Interpreter Certificate issued by the College of Communication and Information. 5
Appendix A: Course Descriptions
SPN 4036 Studies in Hispanic Language – Medical Interpretation (3). Prerequisites: SPN 3300 and SPN 3400 or instructor permission. May be repeated when content varies for a maximum of six semester hours.
SPN 4420. Advanced Spanish Composition and Translation (3). Prerequisites: SPN 3300 and SPN 3400. Stresses composition in Spanish with less emphasis on translation from Spanish into English. For students with prior knowledge of essential points of Spanish grammar.
ADV 3410. Hispanic Marketing Communication (3). This course prepares undergraduate students to become educated decision makers and consumers of information regarding U.S. Hispanic marketing communication issues.
ADV 4411. Multicultural Marketing Communication (3). This course is geared to train students to become effective communicators and marketers when reaching out to a multicultural society. Marketers, communicators, and service providers interested in being effective in reaching out to culturally diverse groups need to become adept at designing messages and strategies geared to a culturally diverse society.
SPC 2730 Global Perspectives: Communication (3). The course gives students an introduction to the basic processes of intercultural communication from a global perspective with a goal of increasing their curiosity and acceptance of other cultures.
SPC 4710. Interracial/Intercultural Communication (3). This course is an exploration of interracial and intercultural communication and the philosophies that underlie the concepts.
IHS 4943 Medical Interpreter Practicum (9). Supervised internship at a College of Medicine clinical site. Student will work with healthcare providers providing interpreter services between patients and healthcare providers. The class exposes students to the challenges of providing care to a multicultural society through exposure to theory, evidence based practices and self-exploration.