Make your home page

Indiana Latino Institute offering medical interpreting scholarships

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Latino Institute is helping prepare a new batch of medical interpreters as one way to improve equity in health care.

Representatives hope to support around 50 students over the next year and a half.

With a growing immigrant population, it’s imperative to ensure effective communication in health and hospital settings. Indiana’s Latino population has tripled in the last two decades. It’s on pace to stay on an upward tick, with more and more households primarily speaking Spanish.

Andrew Penalva, director of workforce development for Indiana Latino Institute, said, “It can be a scary thing to go into a place and not know if there’s going to be anyone there who speaks your language, especially in these critical settings such as a hospital, and information is getting relayed.”

Medical interpreters in hospitals around the state have proven even more vital, using a specialized skill set to effectively communicate between health care providers and patients. Penalva says there’s a difference between knowing how to speak a language and effectively communicate in a medical setting.

“These medical interpreters, they’ll be placed in hospitals. It could be around the state, and what they’re really going to be doing is just ensuring that these individuals that may have limited or no English proficiency are getting the critical information that they need while they’re at the hospital.”

With the need expected to grow, Indiana Latino Institute is using part of a $1 million grant to provide 50 scholarships to Latino college students looking to start a career as a medical interpreter.

LUNA Language will provide the 40-hour Bridge the Gap training course.

Penalva said, “You really need to understand what you’re being told making sure your questions are coming across the right way. And so it’s our hope that over the next year, hopefully help meet some of the need of the Latino community,”

The Indiana Latino Institute leader says the course holds benefits in terms of the support it provides for Spanish speakers, but it can also set up a trainee for a lucrative career. “There is a need in the hospitals, all around the state, and the fact that these classes are online really opens the doors to a lot more people.”