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Testing for National Medical Interpreter Certification to Enter Pilot Phase

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in Healthcare

The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters will begin the pilot phase of the performance exam that will be part of the testing for National Medical Interpreter Certification. Over the next few weeks, 300 interpreters will “test the test” designed to verify the ability of interpreters to apply their knowledge and skills in real-life medical interpreting scenarios. This process will provide additional input to the assessment tool’s design, allowing test developers to make final adjustments before its national implementation.


The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters program, just founded jointly this year by Language Line® University and the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), will consist of a single “certification process” that will award to individuals the credential of “Certified Medical interpreter” (CMI) in a specific language. To qualify for the CMI credential, a medical interpreter will have to successfully pass the prerequisites, the National Board Written Exam, and the National Board Performance Exam.


“This new National Board is committed to bringing to fruition a national certification that recognizes the professional achievements necessary to provide quality language assistance in healthcare settings,” said Louis Provenzano, President and COO of Language Line Services. “Accurately assessing an interpreter’s knowledge and skills is essential and every measure has been taken to ensure that the National Board’s written and performance exams accomplish that goal.”


A call for subject matter experts and pilot participants was shared with attendees at the Third Annual National Medical Interpreter Certification Forum held on May 1, 2009, in Denver, Colorado, where an invitation was also extended to interpreter organizations to participate in the pilot. Medical interpreters interested in volunteering to take the written and performance exams should email


“I would certainly encourage interpreters to become part of this process,” advised Orlin Marquez, President of the Medical Interpreter Network of Georgia. “Certification has been a long time coming. We are thrilled that this effort is finally making significant progress, and we eagerly await a recognized national certification for the valuable services provided by medical interpreters on a daily basis.”


The National Board Written and Performance Exams were developed under the guidance of PSI Services, LLC, an industry-leading provider of professional testing services. Interpreter focus groups, a national job analysis survey, and input from subject matter experts helped define the test content outline in this highly complex statistical and scientific process. Test scoring guidelines were also established. A report on the test development and validation process will be provided following the analysis of the pilot results on the official National Board website at


“This pilot phase is a critical part of the test certification process as it is a key component in ensuring the reliability and validity of the test instruments,” said John Weiner, Chief Science Officer with PSI Services.


The test design team included active medical interpreters who hold medical degrees, professionals with medical interpreter test design experience, specialists with medical interpreter training development background and those with experience in establishing national interpreter standards, medical interpreting trainers, and testers with experience administering medical interpreter testing.


About the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters


The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters will be a non-profit organization, formed from an independent group of industry professionals that represent all key stakeholder groups including professional medical interpreters, trainers, employers, and regulators. The Board will serve as the certifying entity and will be given independent authority over all essential certification decisions. It will not be responsible for accreditation of educational or training programs or courses of study leading to the certification. The formation and structure of the National Board of Certification will adhere to the standards and requirements for certification program governance mandated by the National Organization for Competency Assurance.

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