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FAQs

What do my IMIA membership dues pay for?
 
Most importantly, your membership supports LEP patients, as without professional interpreters they do not have equitable care.
Many have shared with us that they have personally benefited since becoming members of the IMIA and their IMIA membership has proven to be invaluable.  Most importantly, it is the knowledge that their membership fee is making a difference.
 
Your membership supports National Certification
As of October 10th, with the collaboration of many dedicated people, over many years, we were able to launch National Certification.  Contrary to other organizations that rely on grants, the IMIA since 2006, due to an increase in membership, has been able to self-fund the development of the written certification instrument and finalize the 23 year-old process to finally launch certification in 2009. Without certification we would not have a visible profession. We will continue to monitor and develop future versions of the exam in the future. I hope you will consider getting certified.
 
Your membership pays for Membership Benefits
The benefits our members prefer are the emails regarding training and job opportunities and the monthly newsletter. Many don't know that every day IMIA reps scan the news to see if there is anything related to medical interpreting, and then compile a list and include it on the newsletter so you can be informed of what is happening to your profession on a statewide, national, and international level.
 
Your membership supports Interpreter Representation in Many Conferences and Stakeholder Meetings
It is with great pride that the membership of the International Medical Interpreters Association, count ourselves among some of the most driven, ethical and professional medical interpreters worldwide.  Since 1986 we have collectively shown a true commitment to the advancement and promotion of professional medical interpreters by growing this organization to be nearly 2000 members across many nations.  In order to do this, we have IMIA representatives traveling and presenting at conferences at different states and countries. We are ensuring that the voices of professional interpreters are heard and that our profession is at the table when discussions about language access occur.
 
Your membership also supports our advocacy efforts
In 2009, the IMIA started to send delegates to Washington D.C. to continually stay in direct communication with State and Federal government officials responsible for legislature with updates regarding medical interpretation and its impact on Health Care Reform.  This is just the beginning of a long term engagement geared at providing legislation that protects medical interpreters as well as LEP patients and reimbursement for our services.
 
Your membership helps us support interpreter education
We have advocated for the professional growth and accredited training for medical interpreters everywhere and through our efforts have connected countless interpreters and health care providers with programs, forums and networking opportunities to continue to forward their careers in the field.  Our CEU program is a start, and our free Lifelong Learner Initiative Webinars will give interpreters access to free continuing education workshops.
 
Your membership provides you with a means of Career Advancement through Networking
It is important to stay connected to professional interpreters and those in leadership who can further our education, provided opportunities for employment, and allow us to educate others, to publish and create training programs as well as form lasting and meaningful relationships.  Our Divisions, conference and other activities promote opportunities for members to network and learn from each other.

The IMIA invites all members and prospective members to share with us what benefits they would like to see from the IMIA moving forward and we are pleased to take all suggestions under advisement.  Please email us at info@imiaweb.org with your thoughts and/or suggestions.

Your membership supports the IMIA staff  
For this reason, we now have state and country representatives in growing numbers with each passing day, many opportunities for membership participation on multiple committees, the ability to offer Continuing Education Units for interpreters of any language, website resources, notices, etc. Our staff includes a very dedicated part-time administrator, a part-time operations manager, and several independent contractors: a lawyer, accountant, bookkeeper, webmaster, and others. Without their help we would not be able to comply with all the legal requirements a corporation demands. While the majority of our operations are done on a voluntary basis, including governance of a completely voluntary board of directors, the organization would not be able to do what it does without paying certain staff and specialists.
 

The field of medical interpretation is relatively new and, as a result, there is sometimes confusion about its basic aspects. In an attempt to shed some light on this area, below are some commonly asked questions regarding medical interpreting.

1.  What is the difference between "interpretation" and "translation"?
Interpretation is the conversion of a message uttered in a source language into an equivalent message in the target language so that the intended recipient of the message responds to it as if he or she had heard it in the original. To be able to do this, the interpreter must not only be fluent in both the source and target languages but must also have the skills and knowledge base to be able to comprehend the message quickly in the source language and just as quickly re-express it in the target language. Equivalence, however, does not mean a literal or word-for-word conversion from one language into the other. Rather, it requires an analysis of the original message in order to render the fullness of its meaning in another language. The primary test of a competent interpreter, therefore, it the accuracy and completeness of the interpretation.

Translation is the conversion of written text from one language into another, while interpretation involves the spoken word. Properly translated written materials can be critical to ensuring effective communication in the medical settings such as in the case of obtaining informed consent, establishing advanced directives, and issuing discharge instructions and prescriptions.

In a nutshell, "interpretation" refers to what is spoken; "translation" refers to what is written.


2.  I am bilingual in English and Spanish, and am interested in becoming an interpreter. What should I do?
Your bilingual status helps in becoming an interpreter but it is not, however, the only factor involved.  A medical interpreter must not only be fluent in both the source and target languages, but must also have the skills and knowledge base to quickly comprehend the message in the source language, and just as quickly re-express it in the target language.  To do this, a person must have interpreting skills, knowledge about specialized healthcare  terms and concepts, and be able to adhere to the Code of Ethics for medical interpreters. 
There are many training programs available for interpreters, both experienced and novice.  Your participation in such training will help ensure that you are on the right path to becoming a medical interpreter. Most job opportunities across the country require training and testing before hiring you as a medical interpreter.
How do I know if I am fluent enough in English and/or the other language(s) I speak?
The best way is for you to get tested or prove an educational level in that language that precludes testing. There is a list of testing organizations and scores required for certification at http://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/getcertified


3.  My hospital is thinking about starting an interpreter services program. Where should we begin?
There are excellent tools available to help hospitals interested in establishing/enhancing their interpreter services programs.  We recommend that you check out: "Best Practice Recommendations for Hospital-Based Interpreter Services", Massachusetts Department of Public Health
"Linguistically Appropriate Access and Service: An Evaluation and Review for Healthcare Organizations", National Council on Interpreting in Health Care
Both can be accessed through links on this website under Resources/Tools.


4.  Many interpreters say they are "certified".  What does this mean?
A certified interpreter is a professional interpreter who is certified as competent by an accredited professional organization or government entity through rigorous testing based on appropriate and consistent criteria that have been used in developing valid and reliable tests.

Interpreters who have had limited training or have taken a screening test administered by an employing health, interpreter or referral agency are not considered certified. Additionally, someone who possesses a "Certificate of Attendance" or a "Certificate of Completion" from a training program is not considered to be certified. While certification exists for court interpreters and sign language interpreters, there is currently no certification available for medical interpreters in Massachusetts.
 

5. What training is required to become a medical interpreter?
Go to the IMIA Training Directory to see training opportunities to become a medical interpreter 
at http://www.imiaweb.org/education/trainingnotices.asp (Note: If they do not find one in their state, there are two online programs available to all languages and all states. They should also be aware that their English needs to be at a certain level before pursuing or studying for this profession, and this information is in the certification section, under pre-requisites.


5. Will I have to go through a certification process? 
Our certification section describes steps to become a certified medical interpreter to earn the CMI credential for spoken language interpreters. It might be useful to you if you want to pursue this career. http://www.imiaweb.org/certification/prerequisites.asp  Sign language interpreters have their own certification process, and information can be found at www.rid.org 
 

6. How much do medical interpreters make?
Go to the link below to peruse the yearly IMIA Salary Survey data which can be reviewed by state or language at http://www.imiaweb.org/about/default.asp 


7. What do I need to do to join the IMIA?
If you are interested in joining the organization, you can go to http://www.imiaweb.org/members/application.asp You will be able to see all the members only information and become abreast of the field in preparation to embark in this new profession. However, be aware that until you become a trained and tested medical interpreter you should join as an associate member. Job opportunities that are listed on our website for members require medical interpreter training.
 

8.  I am a provider at a local hospital that uses interpreter services. I have noticed many times that the speech uttered by my patient is much longer than its English version provided by the interpreter.  What is going on? 
Don't expect a 'word for word', or 'literal' or 'verbatim' translation.  That is not how interpreters transfer or convey meaning from the source language to the target language. Remember that English is a relatively direct and concise language.  Other languages, such as Vietnamese, tend to be more metaphorical and circumvented.  Allow for the time the interpreter may need to restructure information from the source language and present it in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner in the target language.


9. As a corporate member, can all employees/staff/members of the organization get a membership discount when attending the conference ?
No, only the representative of the corporate membership receives the member price for the conference and there is only one representative per corporate membership.


10. As a corporate member can my professional information still appear in the intepreter directory, while not my personal information such as home address, etc.?
As a corporate member, you will have almost all the benefits that individual members have (including some they do not have), but to be listed in the interpreter directory you will need to join as an individual member.

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