Medical interpreter or Healthcare interpreter, which one is it?

Medical interpreter or Healthcare interpreter, which one is it?

There are two organizations established in the United States that certify Medical/Healthcare interpreters.

Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters

National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters

Since I am CCHI certified, I identify as a healthcare interpreter. When I do an online search using that term mostly CCHI material appears. On the other hand, when I speak with colleagues that refer to themselves as a medical interpreter, I typically assume correctly that they are CMI certified.

Two organizations were developing concurrently. Just as when a business name is taken a new company must think of another name, the same thing happened here.  Both organizations can’t be called the same thing, so they have different names.

I have been waiting to see which one will stand out as the leader but frankly, they both serve a very important function. They are helping to raise the bar in the standard of interpretation while educating the public and healthcare on how to work with an interpreter ethically.

Each organization has strengths and weaknesses that might compliment the other. CMI has more languages available while CCHI is accredited.

I have heard well, thought-out technical arguments for the term medical interpreter and healthcare interpreter.  Personally, I am a very simple man. Language is a living and constantly evolving thing. I often hear linguist get stuck on words that the public in general is shifting to mean something else.

In very general terms, I hear the word medical and healthcare interchanged. Most people view it as the same thing. The two organizations are doing basically the same thing. For this reason, either term is fine with me. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  

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