Spanish-English Medical Interpretation

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Spanish Engish Medical Interpreter

What is Spanish/English Medical Interpretation Training Program?

The Spanish/English Medical Interpreter Training Program is a 44-hour training program designed for bilingual individuals who speak English and Spanish and work in the medical field or in a healthcare setting.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 42% increase in employment for interpreters and translators over the next decade. This increase is due to the "broadening of international ties and the large increases in the number of non-English speaking people in the United States." Source: BLS/OCO

The Law: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 13166 of 1990 mandate that healthcare providers - including private practitioners - receiving Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal funding must provide speakers of limited English "meaningful access" to their services, when those speakers constitute a specified percentage of the demographic. The courts have interpreted "meaningful access" to mean face-to-face interpretation, as well as translation of vital documents. In Colorado, this demographic involves speakers of Spanish.

The 44 hour certificate is required by federal mandate, and the Joint Commission provides documented proof that an interpreter used at a medical facility meets required federal OCR guidelines.

Eleven 4-hour Sessions | 44 contact hours | 4.4 CEUs:

  • Language Coaching
  • English Medical Terminology
  • Spanish Medical Terminology
  • Cognitive Skills, Protocols, Ethics, and Best Practices

What Can a Certificate in Spanish/English Medical Interpretation Do For You?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, The job outlook for interpreters and translators can expect much faster than average employment growth over the next decade due to the increase in the number of foreign language speakers in the United States and the broadening of international ties.

Who Should Attend?

  • Nurses, physicians, pharmacists, front office staff, receptionists, dieticians, laboratory technicians, social workers, etc. who are bilingual in English and Spanish
  • Interpreters and translators currently employed in the medical field or healthcare settings, such as hospitals, physicians' offices, pharmacies, rehabilitation clinics, etc.
  • Independent interpreters
  • Interpreters with other interpreting credentials, such as those who have completed the Spanish/English Legal Interpreter Certificate Program or the Professional Interpreter in Education Certificate Program
  • Individuals seeking employment in the medical field or in a healthcare setting
  • Individuals seeking their first professional interpreting certificate

Why earn a Spanish-English Medical Interpretation Certificate?

Participants who complete the training receive a Certificate of Training Completion that meets federal guidelines.

  • You will be more marketable
  • Improve your patient communication and care
  • Builds upon and enhances your knowledge and skills
  • More career opportunities and options for advancement


Course Qualifications: This course is available to those who fluently speak both English and Spanish (bilingual.)
Please note that being bilingual does not automatically qualify an individual to serve as a medical interpreter. A native-language or "heritage language" speaker (through proper training and education) can become a valuable asset as a trained medical interpreter in any health care related field.

The course does not require a degree.

Pre-Assessment Evaluation:

All training participants must be assessed (orally) for bilingual proficiency, and demonstrate a high level of fluency before final admission into the course.

  • No prior knowledge of medical or technical linguistic awareness is necessary for the pre-assessment.
  • The pre-assessment exam is conducted orally and is based on every day conversational Spanish that is qualitative in nature.
  • The pre-assessment exam is taken by speaking to an expert instructor in qualifying and testing candidates for medical interpretation.
  • Exam participants will be placed into one of three categories guided by the Spanish Assessment rubric linked here: Basic (Less than 10 points), Advanced (10-15 points), or Master (15-20 points).

The qualitative score is calculated on whether the applicant is:

  1. Completely fluent in speech without struggling,
  2. Able to comprehend the spoken message immediately.
  3. Can converse easily in a casual manner about a given topic without hesitation.

Candidates will know their qualitative score at the conclusion of the oral exam. 

Candidates that fall under the master level will be able to start the class.  Students who fall under advanced but are evaluated to most likely progress to a master level by taking the course, will be considered on an individual basis.  Students that fall under basic will be recommended to take a beginner course such as NURS 2470 prior to enrolling in the interpreter program.

Acceptance into the class will be evaluated individually and is not only based on their score but also at the discretion of the instructor.  

Language pre-assessment requests must be emailed to

Contact a Beth-El College Extended Studies Representative to learn more or schedule your pre-assessment evaluation today!

Fall 2014

NNUR 4000 Spanish/English Medical Interpreter
Class# 39938

DATES: ONLINE November 3rd - December 13th 


-Printable Apply Now Information - Summer 2014

Spring 2015

NNUR 4000 Spanish/English Medical Interpreter
Class# TBD

Tuition & Fees: $950.00


Printable Apply Now Information - Spring 2015

Questions? E-mail or call 719.255.4486

Required Text available in the UCCS Bookstore (medical reference section):

  • Medical Spanish Made Incredibly Easy! [Paperback] Springhouse
  • Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; Third edition (June 2, 2008)

The UCCS Spanish/English Medical Interpreter course meets the requirements for future interpreters and translators certification, offered by the International Medical Interpreters Association.


Yvonne Argüello, MS

Yvonne Argüello has had more than 20 years experience as an educator with particular expertise in the education of Spanish-English bilingual professional interpreters.  She developed the curriculum teaching Spanish for Health Care Providers in the Health Sciences Department at Beth El College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs in 2004. The class is currently being offered online by the Beth-El College Extended Studies Department.

Subsequently, Ms. Argüello served Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs as Coordinator of the Department of Medical Interpretation and Translation from 2005-2011 which was totally compliant with all National Standards of Practice of Interpreters in Health Care.  Policies and procedures at Memorial Health System were  guided by the interfacing standards of Title VI of the Civil Rights act of 1964, JCAHO and CLAS.

Given her awareness of the extreme importance and responsibility of professional medical interpreters and the present federal mandates regarding assessment and qualification of employees used as bilingual medical interpreters, she began teaching a 44 hour Certificate of Training Completion through UCCS Campus Wide Extended Studies in 2011-2012.  This class meets all national guidelines and serves to meet the needs of a linguistically diverse community and mitigates medical errors and legal culpabilities.  The Certificate class has been approved by IMIA (International Medical Interpreters Association) and appears on their directory of approved 40 hr. Certificate of Training and Completion which qualifies an interpreter, with proper credentials, to apply to take the National Board of Certified Medical Interpreters examination.

  • Ms. Argüello earned a Master of Science Degree in Linguistics from the University of New York at Albany. 
  • She has been trained and mentored by national experts in the field through her active participation in the California Health Care Interpreters Association (CHIA) since 2005.
  • She received a scholarship from the "California Endowment" and was invited to receive special training through "Connecting Worlds" to become a national trainer of interpreter trainers. Connecting Worlds training is a program based on empirical research regarding the necessary fundamental skills taught in collaboration with Stanford University and the Monterey School of Languages. 
  • She received the Certificate of Competency through the National Center for Interpretation: Testing, Research and Policy (NCITRP) at the University of Kansas Medical School.
  • She has passed Part 1 (written) of the National Board of Certified Medical Interpreters and awaits assignment of venue to sit for Part 2 (oral) of this examination.
  • She taught Italian communication executives American English and American Spanish for one year in Milan, Italy.

Professional Associations

Professor Michelle Lugo

Michelle Lugo, MSN 

Michelle has worked as a clinical instructor for advanced medical/surgical and fundamentals of nursing at Keiser University in Florida for over two years.  During her time at Keiser, she was responsible for admissions interviews for prospective nursing students. She joined UCCS Beth-El College of Nursing in January of 2013 as a clinical instructor and has served as faculty for pharmacology, patterns of knowing, and other courses within the RN-BSN Online option.  Michelle has also served as the diversity champion for the Beth-El College staff recruitment program.

Her professional and academic interests include oncology, neonatology, and emergency medicine/triage.  She is also currently Beth-El College English as a second language representative and is conducting research on how to help nursing students be successful as they face language barriers.   Michelle has worked as an RN on a medical oncology unit as well as other specialties like mother/baby, ER, and pulmonary.  She was nominated for the Daisy award which recognizes nurses who provide exceptional care for their patients and also received the RN II status after presenting research and delivering mission critical projects for HRMC in Florida.  She has served as a Spanish translator for several hospitals and her skills in this area have been utilized by Nurses and Physicians to provide care within diversified communities in Florida and Colorado.      Michelle Lugo graduated in 2008 from Keiser University in FL with her associate's degree in nursing.  She was 2008 nursing class president and received her class Leadership award.  Shortly thereafter, Michelle graduated in 2010 from Keiser University Online with a Bachelor in the Science of nursing.  She went on to pursue her MSN and graduated as the University salutatorian in March 2013.  

Michelle is from Puerto Rico, has been living in the US for over 15 years and is a native Spanish speaker.  She is firmly committed to a program where healthcare professionals can be taught to communicate with the growing Spanish speaking population in order to provide the highest quality care.  As a former online learner, Michelle is also committed to providing students with the highest quality instruction, while bringing a proven style and approach to the online learning format.   

Last updated: August 5, 2014
Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences