Qualified Bilingual Staff Program

Bilingual staff working in healthcare settings are often pulled aside to interpret for patients who speak the same language. However, being bilingual does not mean one has the right competencies to interpret. There are federal regulations and accreditation standards about effective communication in the healthcare industry. The Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) Program educates bilingual staff on the legal and ethical requirements associated with interpreting for limited English proficient (LEP) patients and family members in a clinical setting. QBS candidates, at the end, are equipped with the necessary skills to provide high quality interpreting during medical encounters.

Miscommunication between patients and providers may result in misunderstandings, loss of information, and medical errors. Providing linguistically and culturally appropriate healthcare services is central to providing high quality care, and is associated with achieving improved patient outcomes. Qualified bilingual staff are an integral part of providing culturally and linguistically excellent care.

Who is eligible for the Qualified Bilingual Staff Program?

The program targets bilingual, dual-role staff working in healthcare (i.e., staff communicating directly in the patient’s preferred language or staff interpreting for colleagues and patients).

How do I become a Qualified Bilingual Staff?

  1. Submit a formal application. See below for registration information.
  2. Attend the entire Qualified Bilingual Staff training.
  3. Take an over-the-phone assessment that will determine your level of language proficiency in both English and your language of service (LOS). Upon successfully passing the test, you will be qualified as either QBS Level 1 or Level 2:
    • Level 1 - QBS can interpret for conversational/customer service encounters only (e.g. reception, billing).
    • Level 2 - QBS can interpret in various clinical settings where understanding of medical terminology and concepts is required (e.g. exam room).

Why do I need to be trained and tested if I am already confident in my language proficiency?

According to Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is illegal for healthcare organizations to use unqualified interpreters (i.e. minors and bilingual staff who are not tested or trained). If an organization chooses to use bilingual staff as interpreters, they must test the staff’s language proficiency and train them in interpreting standards of practice and code of ethics.

How is the language proficiency assessment administered?

The language proficiency assessment is completed over the phone, but also requires a computer with internet access.

What languages are available for testing and certification?

Currently, 30 languages may be assessed as part of the training:

Amharic Chinese, Mandarin Hebrew Polish Somali
Arabic Farsi Hindi Portuguese (Brazilian) Spanish
Armenian French Hmong Portuguese (Portugal) Tagalog
Burmese German Italian Punjabi, Eastern Thai
Cambodian Greek Japanese Punjabi, Western Urdu
Chinese, Cantonese Haitian Korean Russian Vietnamese

What can I expect at the training?

The QBS training is very interactive. Participants can expect a mixture of lectures, videos, group discussions, activities, and role plays. Topics covered include, but are not limited to:

  • Legal and Regulatory Requirements
  • Cultural Competency & Diversity
  • Managing the Interpreting Session
  • Varying Roles of Interpreters
  • Demonstration of Interpreting Skills

For more information or to register, contact the program coordinators at QBS@AdventistHealthCare.com.

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For more information or to register for our Qualified Bilingual Staff Program, contact:


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