Medical/Healthcare Interpreters in California

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1 RESEARCH BRIEF Medical/Healthcare Interpreters in California MARCH 2012

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 3 Employment Trends... 3 Job Postings in California... 3 Employment Concentration... 5 Largest Employers by County... 6 Educational Programs... 7 Summary and Recommendations... 9 Recommendations for Further Research... 9 Appendix A: Job Postings by County Appendix B: Sample Job Description Appendix C: Employers That Posted Jobs in

3 Introduction Medical interpreters, sometimes referred to as healthcare interpreters, are an emerging occupation in the field of healthcare. Medical/healthcare interpreters assist healthcare patients with limited English proficiency by communicating with medical staff and translating medical documents. 1 Services are generally provided at medical offices (in-person) or over the phone. Work is mostly performed on a parttime or contract (freelance) basis. Because medical/healthcare interpreters are not yet an established occupation and have not been assigned a standard occupational title and code, traditional labor market data is not available. For the purposes of this research brief, The Conference Board Help Wanted Online (HWOL) data was used to assess the labor market for medical/healthcare interpreters in the state of California. The following job titles were used to identify job postings for medical interpreters: Medical Interpreter Health Interpreter Healthcare Interpreter Medical Translator Health Translator Healthcare Translator Job titles were screened for suitability and those that did not meet the standard job description detailed above were eliminated from the dataset. The dataset included jobs vacancies posted between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 201 in the state of California. Due to the emerging nature of medical/healthcare interpreter occupation and limitations of keyword search, HWOL data may not have captured all relevant job postings. Also, positions advertised through other means (word-of-mouth, physical bulletin boards) were not captured. The final dataset was used to determine the regions of employment concentration for this occupation, industries that employ medical/healthcare interpreters, and existing training programs in the state. Employment Trends Job Postings in California In 2011, there were a total of 289 job postings for medical/healthcare interpreters in the state of California. 2 The types of jobs that are posted for medical/healthcare interpreters are mainly part-time, contract, on-call, and per diem positions, with very few (4 out of 289) regular, full-time positions. Employers of medical/healthcare interpreters posted jobs with language requirements that covered more than 40 different languages. Most job postings sought interpreters with the knowledge of only one foreign language and some desired interpreters able to translate from and to many languages. Figure 1 depicts the five most common languages that appear in medical/healthcare interpreter job postings in Source: BLS, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Edition. Located at on 02/28/12. 2 Jobs posted in one month and active into the second month were counted only once. Ads placed one month, removed, and then reposted the following month were counted again. 3

4 Figure 1 Languages Preferred by Employers (by number of annual job postings) Spanish 117 Cantonese/Mandarin 53 Vietnamese 27 Korean Tagalog As shown in Figure 1, medical interpreters with the knowledge of Spanish were in the most demand in 2011, with 117 job postings (over 40%) seeking these translators. The other popular languages included Cantonese/Mandarin (53 job postings; 18%) and Vietnamese (27; 9%). Over the 12-month period, there was an average of 24 postings for medical interpreters per month. The most number of related job postings (35 each month) were in March, May, and October. June of 2011 had the least number of job postings, while from July onward, the number of job postings steadily increased (with minor fluctuations). Figure 2 provides the monthly total of related job postings for the year Figure 2 Number of Monthly Job Postings for Medical Interpreters in California, Industry Composition Medical/healthcare interpreters provide translation and interpretation services in varied medical settings. Due to the nature of the work performed by these interpreters, the industries that employ them are not only medical offices and hospitals, but also those that provide professional services to medical establishments. Below is a list of the industries that posted five or more job announcements for medical/healthcare interpreters in 2011: Translation and Interpretation Services (78 job postings) All Other Outpatient Care Centers (42 job postings) General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (27 job postings) Freestanding Emergency Medical Centers (10 job postings) Executive Search Services (5 job postings) 4

5 Employment Concentration The map in Figure 3 displays the distribution of job postings in California by county. Figure Job Postings for Medical/Health Interpreters in California (by county) 5

6 As shown in Figure 3, there was a high concentration of job postings for medical/healthcare interpreters in the following counties: Los Angeles (80 postings), Sacramento (35 postings), San Francisco (32), Alameda (19), and Fresno (16). San Diego County accounted for four job postings and Imperial County had only two in the same time period. Appendix A provides the number of job postings identified by county. Largest Employers by County Establishments that specialize in providing translation and interpretation services to medical and other businesses were identified as the major employer of medical/healthcare interpreters. Among the companies with the most number of job postings in 2011, eight were the businesses offering translation and interpretation services. These businesses tend to post openings in several counties and are the largest employers of medical/health interpreters in more than one area. Language World Services provides cultural and linguistic services to businesses, institutions, government agencies, and consumers in California. Healthcare interpreters are able to provide various types of interpreting services. One most widely used in the healthcare setting is Consecutive Interpreting. Language World Services serves Northern California by providing interpretation in more than 60 languages. Other major employers of this occupation are hospitals and medical centers. In Northern California, Kaiser Permanente and California Pacific Medical Center placed the most job postings in 2011 (28 out of 289). Minimum educational level requirement for medical interpreter positions at these establishments is normally high school diploma, while a two-year college credential is preferred. Positions also require two years of prior experience and a healthcare interpreter certification 3. Kaiser Permanente, Memorial Care Health System, and California Pacific Medical Center employ medical/healthcare interpreters to work in their facilities assisting patients in a variety of ways. Interpretation is performed either in-person or over-the-phone, translation duties include the translation of documents, patient records, and discussions during physician examinations. The charts in Figures 4 8 depict the largest employers in Alameda, Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco counties. Figure 4 - Largest Employers in Alameda County Figure 5 - Largest Employers in Fresno County Kaiser Permanente 11 Language World Services, Inc 8 Ambulatory Care Facilities 3 Pacific Interpreters 4 3 Job descriptions did not list a specific certification, only noted that some type of healthcare Interpreter certification was required. 6

7 Figure 6 - Largest Employers in Los Angeles County Figure 7 - Largest Employers in Sacramento County Memorial Care Health System 8 Language World Services, Inc 27 UCLA Health System 6 Interlingva 3 Figure 8 - Largest Employers in San Francisco County California Pacific Medical Center 19 Kaiser Permanente 5 Appendix C lists all establishments that posted jobs for medical/health interpreters in Educational Programs Education and training programs that prepare for employment as a medical/healthcare interpreter are offered by both public and private colleges and universities. Types of education and training include educational certificates, continuing education courses, and online courses. In California there are 15 different programs available to students wishing to pursue employment in this occupation. Twelve of the programs are recognized by the International Medical Interpreters Association. Figure 9 - Medical/Healthcare Interpreter Programs in California Region Institution Award Offered Program Name City College of San Francisco Health Care Interpreter Program San Francisco Bay Cornerstone College of Science and Technology Healthcare Interpreter Program Monterey Institute of Language Unknown Programs, Court and Medical Greater Sacramento American River College* Healthcare Interpreting Central Valley Reedley College Medical Interpreter Program 7

8 Region Institution Award Offered Program Name South Central Santa Barbara City College Courses Introduction to Health Care Interpreting Los Angeles Translation Medical Interpreting MAGNUS 40 Hour Medical Interpreter Training & Internship Los Angeles/ Orange California State University Fullerton, Extended Education Healthcare Interpreting Southern California School of Interpretation Medical Interpreter Program (online) University of California Los Angeles Extension Program in Interpretation Riverside City College* Community Interpretation Desert University of California Riverside Extension Professional Interpretation and Translation Southwestern College* Medical Interpreter 4 San Diego/ Imperial University of California San Diego Extension Translation and Interpretation Program Source: International Medical Interpreters Association, California Community Colleges Chancellor s Office Inventory of Approved Programs, Health Workforce Initiative. *These programs are not recognized by the International Medical Interpreters Association. There is no established state certification for medical interpreters in California. Due to budget constraints, the state does not hold examinations for medical interpreter certification. At a national level, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters offers written and oral exams for certification. Recently, in February 2012, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters merged with the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) to expand services for interpreters 5. IMIA standards define a medical interpreter training program as one that provides a minimum of 40 hours of training, tests students, and provides them with a certificate of successful completion. 4 This program is listed in the California Community Colleges Chancellor s Office database of approved programs but could not be confirmed in the college s catalog; the program may currently be inactive. 5 The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, located at 8

9 Summary and Recommendations The role of medical/healthcare interpreters in healthcare is increasingly important as the healthcare industry expands the delivery of care to a wider population. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of people requiring healthcare services in the coming years. Although projected numbers still vary by source, the general consensus is that there will be an increased need for more allied health workers including medical/healthcare interpreters. In 2011, there were nearly 300 job postings for this occupation in the state of California. Los Angeles County, a highly culturally diverse region, accounted for over one-fourth of all job postings statewide. Employers in some parts of the Northern and Central regions also have a demonstrated need for these occupations. Employers of medical/healthcare interpreters are mainly medical centers and hospitals in addition to translation and interpretation service businesses. Jobs for this occupation are mostly part-time, contract, or per diem, with very few full-time positions available. Education institutions are currently offering training for certification as a medical/healthcare interpreter. Programs are offered at both public and private, two and four year education institutions. Recommendations for Further Research As medical/healthcare interpreter is a fairly new occupation in the field of healthcare, there are some unknowns that further workforce research could shed light on. Because online job posting data can be incomplete, a survey of employers could be beneficial to obtain a more accurate estimate of the number of vacancies available and projected need in the near future. Average wages would be important to capture through such a survey as well, in order to understand how attractive these positions are to prospective employees and whether or not career ladders exist. Since online job descriptions generally listed the same set of minimum requirements, interviews with employers would help further clarify skills and knowledge requirements and gauge employer interest in community college programs training for this occupation. Additionally, analysis of education program offerings and student completion against the number of job vacancies would be beneficial to determine if the labor market is being supplied with a sufficient number of graduates in this field. However, with only 289 job postings for health interpreters and 45 individual employers identified in California, getting a representative sample of employers for a quantitative survey might be challenging. It might be possible to collect enough responses to make conclusions about hiring trends statewide and in larger regions, such as Los Angeles, but not in regions with fewer employers and job postings for this occupation. 9

10 Appendix A: Job Postings by County The following table provides the number of 2011 job postings for medical/healthcare interpreters by county in the state of California. County Number of job postings Los Angeles 80 Sacramento 35 San Francisco 32 Alameda 19 Fresno 16 Kern 11 Monterey 8 San Joaquin 8 Sonoma 8 Santa Barbara 7 Stanislaus 7 Orange 6 Merced 5 Tulare 5 Contra Costa 4 Placer 4 San Diego 4 Ventura 4 Riverside 3 San Bernardino 3 San Luis Obispo 3 Sutter 3 Butte 2 Imperial 2 Mendocino 2 Humboldt 1 San Mateo 1 Santa Clara 1 10

11 Appendix B: Sample Job Description Job Title: Medical Interpreter Employer: UCLA Health System Position Description: Reach your full professional potential. At UCLA Health System, we work hard to ensure our employees have the support they need to make the most of their talents. In turn, we are able to deliver the extraordinary care our patients have come to expect. If you are a bilingual professional who is looking for a promising career in healthcare, pursue the following opportunity. Medical Interpreter. As a Medical Interpreter, you will provide concise and accurate verbal interpretations for Spanish speaking patients via video conferencing, phone and in-person throughout UCLA facilities. Assignments will include explaining surgical and medical procedures, providing discharge instructions and explaining consent forms and hospital policies. Your responsibilities will include recruiting, testing, evaluating and training new volunteers, helping dispatch Interpreter calls and assisting with the Interpreter Training Program. Benefits: As a valued full-time member of our staff, you will enjoy outstanding benefits, including health, dental and vision plans that begin on your first day and a retirement plan that is one of the best in the nation. You will also receive 13 paid holidays and 15 vacation days beginning your first year. Relocation assistance is available for those who qualify. For more information, please apply online at and reference Job Code H Requirements Experience: Two years of experience as a Spanish-English interpreter. Skills: Fluency in both spoken and written Spanish and English. Must be able to distinguish subtle nuances of meaning and idiomatic usage in English and Spanish. Certifications: of completion of an Interpreter training program or passing of a certified interpreter test. Knowledge: Basic anatomy and medical terminology in English and Spanish is required. Source: CareerBuilder 11

12 Appendix C: Employers That Posted Jobs in 2011 Name of Employer # of job postings Language World Services, Inc 37 California Pacific Medical Center 19 Pacific Interpreters 12 Language People Inc 10 Interlingva 9 Kaiser Permanente 9 Certified Languages International 5 MemorialCare 5 Access Language 4 Advanced Medical Personnel, Inc. 3 Interpreters Unlimited 3 Loma Linda University Medical Center 3 UCLA Health System 3 Ambulatory Care Facilities 2 Arizona Employer 2 Asian Health Services 2 Children's Hospital Los Angeles 2 International Language Interpreters 2 Long Beach Memorial Medical Center 2 Saint Francis Memorial Hospital 2 Bullseye Translation 1 Catholic Healthcare West 1 Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland 1 CHW-Glendale Memorial Hospital 1 Citrus Valley Health Partners 1 Community Medical Centers 1 Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) 1 CyraCom International 1 Focus Interpreting 1 Golden State Interpreting Services 1 Guzman Interpreting 1 Highland General Hospital 1 Inland Injury Care Center 1 Lucile Packard Children's Hospital 1 Memorial Health 1 Monterey County Personnel 1 Natividad Medical Center 1 San Mateo County, CA 1 Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital 1 St. Joseph Hospital 1 Tri-City Medical Center 1 University of California Irvine 1 University of California San Diego 1 University of California San Francisco Medical Center 1 Windstone Behavioral Health 1 12

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