Heritage-Language Healthcare Workers: Medical Interpretation as an Approach Towards Inclusiveness in Healthcare




Osornio, Jesus

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Hispanics in the United States are considered one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups, comprising 18.7% of the total population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020). Spanish is now spoken at home by 13% of the population, making the country the second largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, behind Mexico (Thompson, 2021). Despite the increased prevalence of Spanish, language discordance for Spanish-speaking patients remains a critical obstacle to accessing healthcare. This thesis examines the use of bilingual Hispanic healthcare workers as interpreters at a community health clinic (CHC) in Waco, TX. Using data from an analysis of medical consultation videos from the CHC, interpreter self-reported Spanish proficiencies, and a formal interpretation assessment (the Qualified Bilingual Staff Assessment), this thesis explores advantages and disadvantages of utilizing dual-role bilingual staff as medical interpreters. Results of this study highlight current issues with heritage-language staff who interpret without adequate training. Recommendations are also provided for standardization of training and assessment for medical interpreters.