Chapter 5: Promising Practices in Interpreter Training and Competency Assessments

Health plans have improved the competency of bilingual staff who provide services and interpretation in languages other than English. Interpretation competency can be ensured through internal or external training. For example, Kaiser Permanente's Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) model provides internal assessments and trainings in an effort to increase the availability and use of bilingual staff. The goal of the QBS model is to identify, qualify, educate/enhance, mobilize and monitor an internal workforce to improve health outcomes and eliminate health care disparities.

Kaiser Permanente also developed the Health Care Interpreter Certificate Program to address the dearth of qualified professional health care interpreters in the community. In partnership with City College of San Francisco, Kaiser Permanente designed a model Health Care Interpretation curriculum in 1996 and now has established multiple internship programs internally and externally, certified faculties, and disseminated the curriculum across the country. This innovative model has shown that partnerships between health care organizations and accredited academic institutions are sustainable and mutually beneficial. The collaborative efforts help promote a renewable balance of supply and demand by connecting the health care institutions that need professional health care interpreters with the academic institutions that train them.

Case Study: Kaiser Permanente: Health Care Interpreter Certificate Program