East Boston Neighborhood Health Center partnered with Bunker Hill Community College, JVS-Boston, and World Education to train medical and clerical assistants to become auxiliary medical interpreters. The project consisted of a medical interpretation class once a week, work-based learning activities, and eight hours of job shadowing.
“If we want to hire from the community, then we have to develop supports that will
assist our high-barrier neighborhood population—non-English-speaking, low-wage,
low educational attainment, single-parent—to move up the ladder, such as locating
training on site and giving workers adequate release time to attend training.”
—Liliana Silva, Vice President of Education and Training,
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
Bunker Hill Community College instructors taught the medical interpretation class at the health center’s Education and Training Institute. ETI serves as an on ramp to higher education for frontline employees who may have had poor experiences with school and be hesitant to step foot on a college campus. Without leaving the health center, they register for and take training classes. Workers practice interpreting skills for eight hours on the job, supervised by a professional interpreter. The professional interpreters who serve as preceptors document the achievement of competencies and report these achievements to the instructor who issues a final grade.
JVS instructors provided student support services and offered pre-college English and math classes to employees who lacked the basic skills to be accepted into the interpreter training program or other credential or degree programs.
Upon completion of the medical interpretation course, workers receive three credit hours from Bunker Hill Community College and become certified auxiliary interpreters, an East Boston Neighborhood Health Center credential. They have remained in their current positions but serve as interpreters when needed. They have also received a pay raise.
- 28 employees completed the training and became certified auxiliary interpreters.
- 60 employees enrolled in pre-college English or math classes in preparation for the interpreting course, Associate’s degrees, or other credentials.
Benefits to Frontline Employees
- Obtained the skills to advance their careers
- Gained access to higher wages when undertaking interpretation tasks
Benefits to Employers
- The health center can better serve its multicultural patients now that more staff members can provide interpretation.
Changes to Institutional Practice
- The partnership compensates workers for half of the time they attend class, including job shadowing and active interpreting hours.
- Bunker Hill Community College has developed an 18-credit Medical Interpreter Certificate program designed to prepare students for the national certification exam.