Eliminating Language and Cultural Barriers to Care

Eliminating Language and Cultural Barriers to Care


For the nearly one-tenth of Americans and one-quarter of New Yorkers with limited English proficiency, accessing quality healthcare can be a difficult task. The Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service is working to eliminate language and cultural barriers to healthcare by increasing the supply of professionally trained medical interpreters and offering courses for medical professionals in cultural responsiveness.

Our experts are national leaders who strive to understand the impact of language and cultural barriers to healthcare. They regularly publish papers on their efforts and consistently participate in conferences that address these issues. Our group has also informed policy through advocacy efforts at the state and national levels. Francesca Gany, MD, MS, Chief of the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service, and research physician Lisa Diamond, MD, MPH, serve on the research and policy committees of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care. Javier González, MFA leads the group. He has developed curricula for in-person/distance learning solutions for interpreters, providers, and patients and has used technology to improve access and efficiency in language service delivery.

Medical Interpreting Training Program

Leveraging more than 20 years of public health research and clinical experience, our experts have developed comprehensive medical interpreting training programs that enable bilingual individuals to serve as liaisons between patients and healthcare providers who do not speak the same language. Medical interpreters empower providers to deliver high-quality, personalized care while ensuring satisfaction and, most importantly, improved health outcomes for patients.

We offer training programs for both individuals and institutions that can be customized to meet each customer’s unique needs. At the end of each program, participants possess the building blocks essential to prepare them for the Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI™ or CoreCHI™) examination, and emerge as nationally certified medical interpreters.

  • We offer language-specific training in many languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Russian, Spanish, etc. We teach the didactic in English and provide extensive language-specific component for role-playing and interpretation practice.
  • Our trainings cover the terminology, skills, techniques and best practices essential for communication between limited English proficient patients and healthcare providers.
  • Participants gain an understanding of the role of the professional medical interpreter and medical ethics across a variety of healthcare settings.
  • All prospective participants undergo a bilingual language assessment as part of the application process.

To date, we have trained more than 2,000 individuals in more than 20 languages. Our course offerings include:

Medical Interpreting Training (MIT)

This comprehensive training program was designed to meet the growing interest of many bilingual individuals who want to become professionally trained medical interpreters. The trainings typically consist of six full-day, in-person sessions over the course of eight weekends (48 hours of training in total), and we tailor the schedule to the needs of our clients. These class sessions are supplemented by individual remote learning through our online language lab, where students participate in individualized practice at their own pace to enhance their skills. At the end of the program, students are qualified to take the Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI) and Core Certification Healthcare Interpreter (CoreCHI™) examinations and pursue employment in medical interpreting. The program schedule depends on enrollment, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested candidates should submit MIT online application. All applications are kept on file and contact will be made once a class is scheduled. The fee for the 48-hour training is $1,200. No phone calls please.

Some of our Course Offerings:

In-Person Medical Interpreting Courses

Our courses provide the skills needed to provide medical interpretation in different healthcare settings. These courses are designed for bilingual people with no medical interpreter experience, and for interpreters who have not had medical training. Our courses provide the basic skills for face-to-face and telephonic interpreting. Students acquire skills and techniques in consecutive and simultaneous interpreting and sight translation.

Our curriculum is flexible and includes on-demand modules such as dual role interpreting and community interpreting.

Online Language Lab

Our Language Lab helps our interpreter students practice and monitor their progress as they listen to their recorded work in English and their target language. Exercises include simulated medical encounters, medical and colloquial concepts, and terminology used in different medical settings.

Working With Medical Interpreters

This course teaches healthcare providers to effectively use medical interpreters in communicating with patients who have limited proficiency in English. Lectures, small-group instruction, and exercises such as role-playing are used to help participants learn to conduct a cross-linguistic, cross-cultural medical interview.

Tailored Workshops

We offer customized courses that address the educational needs of interpreters and medical providers, including workshops for national certification preparation and interpreting in mental health and end-of-life settings.

Cultural Responsiveness Training

This dynamic program educates clinical and medical administrative professionals on how to care for patients of diverse backgrounds. Our customized trainings are designed to improve cross-cultural communication in healthcare settings and offer resources to circumvent language barriers with the use of interpreters. Providers who understand and respect the unique needs, preferences, and behaviors of their increasingly diverse patient populations are better equipped to ensure appropriate and accurate care. Ultimately, this will contribute to eliminating health disparities in the broader community they serve.

Interpreter Screening and Evaluation Services

Our team of linguists assesses and evaluates an interpreter’s ability to understand, process, and interpret medical information quickly and effectively.

Consulting Services

Our staff works with individual healthcare facilities and outreach programs to help them address their language and translation needs. Our services include needs assessments and recommendations, evaluations of existing language-service strategies, personnel training, and collaborative research. Sample consulting engagements include:

  • Delivering needs assessments and customized training programs for hospitals navigating the challenges of healthcare reform and shifting patient demographics.
  • Advising hospital administrators on the adoption of Joint Commission, Title VI, and medical interpreting standards.
  • Connecting health researchers with resources and potential research study participants in local immigrant health communities.

Contact Us

For more information about our services, please contact Javier González at [email protected].