The Virtual Lecture Hall Physician CME Website

Communicating Through Healthcare Interpreters

Communicating Through Healthcare Interpreters

CME Certificate Fee: $50.00 (USD) for certificate
2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM

Estimated time to complete this activity: 2.00 hours

Author(s)/Editor(s): Cynthia E. Roat, MPH & Elizabeth Jacobs, MD
DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: All author(s), contributor(s), editor(s), and CME Office Reviewer(s) state that they do not have any financial arrangements with commercial interests that could constitute a conflict of interest.
Further Author/Editor Information | Further CME Information
Meets Special CME Requirements in: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas     Learn More >>

Outcome Objectives:

As a result of completing this activity, the participant will be better able to:

  • Identify and avoid the potential consequences of using unqualified interpreters (including family members, children, and untrained bilingual staff), including:
    • Decreased quality of care
    • Limited access to care, resulting in civil rights violations, accreditation issues, and professional liability
    • Increased cost of care
  • Perform the following when working with an interpreter:
    • Greet patients appropriately
    • Perform an appropriate pre-session with the interpreter
    • Establish the role of the interpreter with the patient
    • Establish rapport with the patient through the interpreter
    • Position the interpreter effectively vis-à-vis the patient
    • Address the patient directly
    • Modify speech patterns to optimize the accuracy of the interpretation
    • Ensure that patients know what is being discussed if you need to speak directly with the interpreter
    • Guide an untrained interpreter
  • Propose strategies to address the following issues when working with Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients:
    • Track language needs
    • Evaluate your own and your staff's level of language capacity
    • Choose an appropriate interpreter given different circumstances
    • Use an interpreter as a culture broker
  • Employ the following in mental health settings:
    • Factor cultural differences into an assessment of abnormal behavior and appropriate development
    • Identify and manage secondary trauma in interpreters
    • Adapt the use of standardized testing instruments appropriately across languages

Learning Format: Case-based, interactive online course, including mandatory assessment questions (number of questions varies by course or module). Please also read the Technical Requirements.

CME Sponsor: University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson
Credit Designation and Accreditation Statements >>
Current CME Approval Period: September 1, 2020 - August 31, 2023
Original Release Date: May 25, 2005
Most Recent Review by Author: September 1, 2020
Most Recent Review by CME Sponsor: September 1, 2020
Financial Support Received: None
Communicating Through Healthcare Interpreters
2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM
Current CME Approval Period: September 1, 2020 - August 31, 2023
Financial Support Received: None

ACCME/AMA PRA Accreditation Statement

The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

CME Office Contact Information and CME Disclosure

The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson
Office of Continuing Medical Education

The following University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson CME Reviewers, Activity Directors, or Planning Committee Members have no relevant financial relationships with commercial interests that could constitute a conflict of interest with the proposed activity:

Robert Amend, M.Ed.
Randa Kutob, MD

Communicating Through Healthcare Interpreters
Authors and Acknowledgements


Cynthia Roat, MPH

Cynthia Roat is a consultant and trainer on issues related to language access in health care. She is the principle author of Bridging the Gap, currently the most widely offered training program for medical interpreters in the United States. She is a founding member of the Society of Medical Interpreters (SOMI) in Seattle, is Chair of the Advisory Committee of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC), and is a national advocate for the field of health care interpreting and for language access in general. Ms. Roat has been an interpreter trainer for over twenty years, and is certified by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services for both medical and social service interpreting. She holds a Masters degree in International Public Health from the University of Washington.

Disclosure: Ms. Roat states that she does not have any financial arrangements that could constitute a conflict of interest.

Elizabeth Jacobs, MD, MAPP, FACP

Dr. Jacobs is Associate Vice Chair for Health Services Research in the Department of Medicine, and Associate Professor of Medicine and Population Health Sciences, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She attended medical school at University of California at San Francisco, trained as a general internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship at the University of Chicago. After struggling to care for limited English-speaking patients during medical school and residency, she decided to pursue a research career investigating minority disparities in health care. She has conducted research documenting that provision of adequate interpreter services positively impacts the delivery of health care provided to patients with limited English proficiency, and that the provision of these services is cost-beneficial. Her research interests also include access to, and cultural specificity of, medical care delivered to minority patients, health literacy, and the role that trust in health care plays in African American and Latino patients health care decisions. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment, The Russell Sage Foundation, and the Office of Minority Health. She is recognized as an expert on the provision of linguistically accessible and culturally competent care, and she has served on Office of Minority Health, JCAHO and AHRQ expert panels. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and has authored 3 book chapters. In addition, she works with other investigators to design culturally specific research and teaches residents and medical students about practicing culturally sensitive medicine.

Disclosure: Dr. Jacobs states that she does not have any financial arrangements that could constitute a conflict of interest.


The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following individuals. In addition to those listed below, we extend many thanks to Pacific Medical Clinics in Seattle, WA and to Brenda Lloyd (Beacon Hill Clinic Supervisor) for allowing us to videotape at Beacon Hill Clinic.

Huan Nguyen . . . as Mr. Nguyen
Van Pham . . . as Mr. Nguyen's daughter
Kris Keppeler . . . as Dr. Jenkins
Huyen Nga Cao . . . as Grace, the medical assistant
Thu-Van Nguyen . . . as the professional interpreter

Video Crew:
Bruce Hutson: Videography
Matt Monroe: Sound
Leif O'Leary: Set Design and Video Editing (courtesy of Talaria Inc., Seattle, WA)
Amy Vore: Production Assistant (courtesy of Talaria Inc., Seattle, WA)

Video Script and Direction:
Cynthia E. Roat, MPH

Vietnamese Script Translation and Subtitles:
Rosemary Nguyen

Review of Vietnamese Script:
Thu-Van Nguyen

Communicating Through Healthcare Interpreters
Ratings (1002 responses)
How would you rate this program overall?
Average Rating: 4.00/5.00
How well were the learning objectives of this program met?
Average Rating: 4.30/5.00
User Comments
by Sujatha Bhamidipati | Oct 31, 2020
Very informative and appropriate topic, I knew i am having trouble with interpreters but now it is clear why. Thank you for excellent presentation with real scenarios .
by Philip Snyder | May 2, 2020
Excellent practical design that is easily implemented in my future patient encounters.
by Hidden | Apr 29, 2020
Excellent course and videos. The video cases illustrate each point with plenty of resources to review. In addition, the clinical vignettes are quite practical and full of details. Thank you.
by BRENT SCHIFFER | Jul 12, 2018
Very informative program. I enjoyed it very much.
by Carlos Gutierrez | Dec 28, 2017
excellent course, helps with needs of ethics requirements
by Hidden | May 25, 2017
Technical issues with Flash
Communicating Through Healthcare Interpreters
This course meets general AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credit(s)TM requirements in states that have a CME requirement.

Based on information from state licensing authorities, this program meets special CME requirements in these states:

Connecticut Risk Management CME
Massachusetts Risk Management CME
Michigan Medical Ethics CME
Pennsylvania Risk Management / Patient Safety CME
Texas Medical Ethics / Professional Responsibility CME

View other courses meeting Special State Requirements
Communicating Through Healthcare Interpreters
Technical Requirements

This web-based activity is offered online and requires an always-on connection to the Internet (the activity cannot be downloaded). The activity works on PC or Mac computers and most tablet computers. The activity should work with the newer versions of major Internet browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. JavaScript should be enabled in all browsers, and Popups and first party cookies need to be accepted from You should also have the latest, free Adobe Reader installed for reading documents.

For additional information, read the Technical Assistance FAQ.

This program also requires that you have the latest free Flash Player.

IMPORTANT for iPad Users: Please download and use the Free Puffin Browser from the app store if you want to complete this course on an iPad.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine Home  |  Feedback  |  Privacy Policy  |  E-mail Policy  |  Refund Policy  |  Terms of Use  |  Contact

All contents copyright © 1998 - 2020 Arizona Board of Regents unless otherwise noted