Using professional interpreters in undergraduate medical consultation skills teaching

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Bansal, Aarti
Swann, Jennifer
Smithson, W. Henry
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Dove Medical Press
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The ability to work with interpreters is a core skill for UK medical graduates. At the University of Sheffield Medical School, this teaching was identified as a gap in the curriculum. Teaching was developed to use professional interpreters in role-play, based on evidence that professional interpreters improve health outcomes for patients with limited English proficiency. Other principles guiding the development of the teaching were an experiential learning format, integration to the core consultation skills curriculum, and sustainable delivery. The session was aligned with existing consultation skills teaching to retain the small-group experiential format and general practitioner (GP) tutor. Core curricular time was found through conversion of an existing consultation skills session. Language pairs of professional interpreters worked with each small group, with one playing patient and the other playing interpreter. These professional interpreters attended training in the scenarios so that they could learn to act as patient and family interpreter. GP tutors attended training sessions to help them facilitate the session. This enhanced the sustainability of the session by providing a cohort of tutors able to pass on their expertise to new staff through the existing shadowing process. Tutors felt that the involvement of professional interpreters improved student engagement. Student evaluation of the teaching suggests that the learning objectives were achieved. Faculty evaluation by GP tutors suggests that they perceived the teaching to be worthwhile and that the training they received had helped improve their own clinical practice in consulting through interpreters. We offer the following recommendations to others who may be interested in developing teaching on interpreted consultations within their core curriculum: 1) consider recruiting professional interpreters as a teaching resource; 2) align the teaching to existing consultation skills sessions to aid integration; and 3) invest in faculty development for successful and sustainable delivery.
Interpreter , Communication skills , Curriculum
Bansal, A., Swann, J. and Smithson, W. H. (2014) 'Using professional interpreters in undergraduate medical consultation skills teaching', Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 2014(5), pp. 439-450. doi:10.2147/AMEP.S71332
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