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Effect of continuous training to improve the performance of refugee health clinic interpreters

Joseph S. Johnson, MPH and Laura Hardcastle, BA. Refugee Health Section, California Department of Health Services, 601 N. 7th Street, MS 508, PO Box 942732, MS 508, Sacramento, CA 94234-7320, Sacramento, CA 94234-7320, 916-323-1164, lhardcas@dhs.ca.gov

The California Department of Health Services/Refugee Health Section (CDHS/RHS) requires the use of culturally sensitive interpreters and staff to provide services in its refugee health clinics. To assist programs in meeting this goal, the CDHS/RHS implemented a three-year Medical Interpreter Training Program to build local capacity. Since 2001, CDHS/RHS has sponsored a 40-hour basic training in medical interpreting techniques for interpreters. A training of trainers (TOT) course was also presented. The TOT training was offered to build on-going capacity for training resources that would be available to the clinics on a continuing basis. To encourage proper use of interpreters, in 2002, CDHS/RHS provided training to over 485 healthcare providers. This interactive training provided participants with insight into the complexity of interpreting and working with interpreters and refugees. In 2003, CDHS/RHS provided training for 500 interpreters and providers with the goal of increasing the clinic staff’s ability to identify language and cultural interpretation needs of non-English speaking refugee clients. In addition, this training provided a basic understanding of clinical and system issues in mental health so that patients with mental health needs are more effectively served. Through the efforts of this 3-year program, the CDHS/RHS has established a force of trained interpreters and interpreter trainers at almost every staff level. Each refugee health clinic has the ability to meet the language needs of almost every client that seeks services. CDHS/RHS is in the process of evaluating the impact of these trainings along with the degree of satisfaction among the interpreters.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the conclusion of the session, the participants will be able to

    Keywords: Interpreters, Clinical Prevention Services

    Related Web page: www.dhs.ca.gov/ochs/refugeehealth

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: California Department of Health Services, Refugee Health Section
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Improving Services for Immigrants, Refugees, Women, and Youth

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA