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Preparing for national certification!

during exam prep, make time for coffee breaks!
During exam prep, make time for coffee breaks!

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I finished my CCHI certification in 2012, and now I’m getting ready to run a series of informal written test prep workshops for the interpreters in my department, so I’m going to share here my plan to get us ready for the written exam for national certification.

The interpreters in my department are planning to take the written exam the third week of December, so we’ve got about six weeks to prepare.  You might need more or less time.  You get to decide.  Just to give you some context, these are all interpreters with more than 40 hours of training, and at least four years of experience in adult and pediatric settings.  One of them is Burmese, and the rest are from Spanish-speaking countries.   Here’s what we will look at, over the next six weeks:

Review the content of the written exam.  First, they’ll decide on the test from the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) or the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI).  We’ll look at the test outlines for CCHI and the NBCMI, but the quick and dirty is that they’re both all in English, all in multiple choice format, and both tests include questions on medical terminology and ethics and standards of practice (not revealing any secrets here–this is all out in the open on their respective websites).  Remember that since it’s all in English, you don’t want to focus at this point on equivalents in your other language.  Focus on the meaning of the words.

Ethics and standards of practice review.  I’m planning on taking the sample test questions from the CCHI’s candidate handbook and going over them as a group.  A good idea is to go through each scenario, and not only choose the best answer, but also think about why the wrong answers are wrong.  What ethical principles or standards of practice do they violate?  You can find the NCIHC code of ethics here, and the IMIA code of ethics here to help guide your decision-making.  I’m planning on making up my own ethical dilemmas to prep us, but if you’re having trouble coming up with dilemmas to practice with, or how you should approach and resolve dilemmas, check out the Interpretips videos, where they present dilemmas and walk you through them.

Medical terminology review. Medical terminology is so vast, it can be tough to know where to start.  I did a medical terminology workshop for my staff, using this awesome workbook from Cross Cultural Communications.  The workbook has Spanish equivalents for many terms, but is useful for speakers of any language, and remember, we’re focusing on the English here.  We’re going to review most of the activities, and I especially like the ones where you work on using roots and affixes to decipher medical terminology.  You can also get your terminology fix here with a post I did about (in my humble opinion) must-know terminology for medical interpreters.

Bonus tip: Find a study buddy.  It’s more fun, helps you stick to a study schedule, and it’s very useful to have another perspective.

Are you prepping for the written exam for national certification?  Share with us how you’re doing it and how things are going!  Have you already passed the exam?  Let us know how you prepped!

(You can read a post about prepping for the written exam here, and prepping for the oral exam here.)

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