Teaching Medical Students How to Use Interpreters: A Three Year Experience

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McEvoy, Mimi ; Santos, Maria Teresa ; Marzan, Maria ; Green, Eric H. ; Milan, Felise B. (2009)

Disparities in health exist among ethnic/racial groups, especially among members with limited English proficiency (LEP). The session described in this paper aimed to teach medical students the skills needed to communicate with patients with LEP. Description _ We created a required session titled ‘‘Cross-Cultural Communication-Using an Interpreter’’ for third-year medical students with learning objectives and teaching strategies. The session plans evolved over three years. Program Evaluation _ Students’ perceived efficacy using retrospective pre/post test analysis (n_110, 86% response rate) administered 7 weeks post-session revealed that 77.3% of students felt ‘‘more prepared to communicate with a patient with LEP’’, 77.3% to ‘‘give proper instructions to an untrained interpreter’’ and 76.4% to ‘‘access a hospital language line’’. Conclusion _ Our curricular intervention was effective in increasing students’ perceived efficacy in communicating with a patient with LEP, using untrained interpreters and accessing a hospital language line. Skills practice and discussion of using interpreters should be a part of medical education. Keywords: Interpreters, limited English proficiency, cultural competency, medical education
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