Health Care Interpreters in California


Catherine Dower

Apr 2003

California has a considerable and increasing need for interpretive services in health care. Currently one in every five Californians, over 6 million people, qualify as Limited English Proficient (LEP) and could be expected to benefit directly from improved interpretive services and the attendant cultural competence of native and/or well trained speakers. This issue brief looks at the emerging profession of Health Care Interpreters in California and examines the significance and complexity of the issues it faces in addressing the significant language needs of the state. The scope of these needs weighed against this very small workforce may mean that the evolution and growth of the profession will be just one facet of an overall strategy that must also include more bilingual providers, optimal use of technology, improved education and translation materials for consumers, and a host of other approaches to meet the health care needs of all Californians.