Program Information

College: Communication & Information
Degree: Undergraduate Certificate
Limited Access: Yes
Contact: Tatiana Fernandez, MS
Florida State University College of Medicine
Immokalee Campus
1441 Heritage Blvd
Immokalee, Florida 34142

Phone: (239) 658-3043


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),

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 program is administered by:

Tatiana Fernandez, MS
Florida State University College of Medicine
Immokalee Campus
1441 Heritage Blvd
Immokalee, Florida 34142
(239) 658-3043

For Additional Information.

Application Procedure

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 Tatiana Fernandez, 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.