For patients that speak more common languages such as Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin or Vietnamese, finding medical interpreters to facilitate communication with providers is typically doable.
When looking for professionals to translate in lesser known languages like Tigrinya, Pashto, Krahn or Ojibwe, the search becomes tricky.
The most difficult part of recruiting and training medical interpreters is identifying various skilled individuals in a wide range of languages who have the necessary experience or certification to teach, said Lisa Morris, director of Cross Cultural Initiatives at Commonwealth Medicine, a division of the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.
Commonwealth Medicine works closely with community-based organizations and other interpretive agencies to understand the language needs of patients, she said.
“I see an increase in the demand and not enough supply,” Morris said. “I get calls from institutions all the time asking, ‘Do you have any graduates in this language or that language? Are you training people in this language? We really need it.’”