Questions and Answers: The Process toward National Medical Interpreter Certification
CMI Candidate Handbook, available on our website - just click on the link in the blue box on the right.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Please note: Many questions are answered in the CMI Candidate Handbook, available on our website at: www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/candidate_handbook
When can I take the exam?
The exams are available on demand – the written exam is in English and is for all interpreters. The oral exam is available in Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese.
Please go to www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/getcertified for more information and to register online.
How should I prepare?
The CMI Candidate Handbook is available on our website and gives you a general overview of the exams and what to expect. Please go to www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/candidate_handbook
What training courses are there?
For training information, please go to the IMIA searchable Training Directory: www.imiaweb.org/education/trainingnotices.asp
Where are the testing sites for the written exam?
For testing sites for the written exam visit this link: www.imiaweb.org/uploads/docs/PSIPremierPlusNetworkCities.pdf
Where are the testing sites for the oral exam?
On our website you will find a list of the testing sites for the oral exam that is continually being updated and expanded - please see the home page, the announcement about the oral exam sites and it will lead you to the list of locations. The link is http://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/lists-testing-sites-0
Do you have webinars and how do I join?
We have monthly webinars, and the current webinar announcement is posted on the opening page of the website, with a link to the schedule and details on how to join. There is also a Webcast of a previous webinar posted, and a copy of the current power point presentation under the tabs "Get Certified" and "Oral exam."
Where do I register?
Please register online at www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/register (The National Board does not accept mailed in, paper registrations.)
Why won't my payment go through?
Re-check the billing address for your credit card. If the address you submitted on the payment page does not match the billing address, the payment will be denied.
I submitted my registration but have not heard anything.
Please allow 2-4 weeks for the registration process, due to unprecedented volume. Your registration and pre-requisites documentation will be reviewed and you will be notified whether it was approved or if more documentation is needed.
What are the prerequisites?
You can review the prerequisites at: www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/prerequisites
Which documents should I submit?
documents to be submitted together.
Please submit ONLY those documents that are specified on this page
If you are submitting an employment letter, that is the only document we need, but be sure the letter includes all the requested information (Candidates must ensure that their supervisor (HR or direct) signs and dates a letter on company or health care institution letterhead. The letter should include the language interpreted and the dates of employment as a medical interpreter).
If you are submitting a 40+ hours medical interpreters training certificate, be sure to add the L1 and L2 proofs, as specified on the website. Please send them all in at the same time and only the documents that are requested. Remember, if you are sending the 24 credit hours for L2, we need a transcript, not just a diploma.
staff [at] certifiedmedicalinterpreters [dot] org. Be sure to include your full name (the same as on your registration) in the subject line.
There is a nonrefundable $35 registration fee, the written exam is $175 and if you pass, the oral exam is $275. These fees are paid in stages, not all at once. All payments are done online. Oregon residents who are testing in a language other than Spanish get a discount due to a grant from their state.
I am having trouble downloading information from the website.
Most documentation on our website is in PDF format and you may have to download Adobe Reader, free on their website at http://get.adobe.com/reader/
The system does not recognize my password or has denied access.
Our administrative registrant is able to update your information on the system. Please contact staff [at] certifiedmedicalinterpreters [dot] org
Once I register, how long do I have to take the written exam?
Candidates are encouraged to take the exam as soon as possible after registering, but they have up to six months to take the exam. If candidates wait one year or more from the time they took the written exam before requesting to take the oral exam or retake the written, they will be charged another $35. registration fee for the additional processing.
Why am I being charged a re-registration fee of $35.?
Those who have not passed the exam have to wait a mimimum of three months until they may retest. You may take it three times, with the three month waiting period between the first and second unsuccesful attempt. If you fail three times, you must wait a year from the date you took the third exam to take the exam a fourth time.
What are the passing grades for the exams?
The passing grade is 75% for the written exam.
For the oral exam it is 70% for Russian, Cantonese, Spanish and Korean; for Mandarin it is 80% and for Vietnamese it is 65%.
Please be advised that the pass rates vary depending on the language and the results of the pilot exams. For a complete explanation of how the pass rates were set, please go to www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org and click on the Information tab, then Reports and see this report:
"Development and Validation of Oral Examinations for Medical Interpreter Certification: Mandarin and Russian Forms - Technical Report, December 2012." Or click here.
How soon will I get my results for the exams?
- You will know immediately at the end of the Written exam if you passed or not.
- You will receive the results of your Oral exam within 8-10 weeks by email. The National Board cannot answer inquiries about the status of your results before 8 weeks have passed.
Once I pass the oral exam, how soon will I get my CMI credential?
After confirmation that you have passed, you may use the designation, CMI-Spanish (or the language you tested for). You will be put on the online CMI registry immediately and you will receive your CMI certificate in 8-10 weeks. The registry is at www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/registry
Can I become certified before taking the oral exam?
Passing the oral exam is a requirement for earning your Certified Medical Interpreter credential – CMI. The National Board does not award credentials to interpreters who have not passed an oral performance certification exam.
May I take the oral exam in more than one language? Will there be a discount for an oral exam in a second or third language?
The oral exam can be taken in as many languages as are available. Currently we offer the CMI certification in Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Korean and Cantonese. Vietnamese will be available soon soon, see our home page for updates. Since administrative costs remain the same, there is no discount available at this time. Please note that candidates only have to pass the written exam once.
Can you tell me if certification will be required in the future?
We cannot determine if the regulatory bodies will mandate that medical interpreters, in order to practice medical interpreting, will need to be certified/licensed the same way it is required for registered nurses, physicians and other health care providers. However, the national trend seems to indicate that we are moving towards that end as certification is gaining ground and wide acceptance, and some states and health care institutions and other entities have recognized national medical interpreter certification. Many health care institutions are now requiring it, and promoting and even subsidizing the certification of their entire interpreter staff. It may be some time before there are state and or federal laws passed requiring certification, but this may come in time.
Can the National Board provide special accommodations for interpreters with disabilities?
The National Board is committed to equal access for all certification candidates and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Reasonable examination accommodations will be made at no extra charge to individuals with documented disabilities.
In compliance with ADA, the National Board provides reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities that may affect their ability to take the required examination. It is the applicant's responsibility to notify the Board of needed alternative arrangements. The National Board is not required to provide accommodations if unaware of applicant’s needs. Information regarding a disability will be considered strictly confidential and will only be shared with the testing sites who will administer the test.
Documentation from a qualified professional must be submitted by candidates and must include a written list of the requested exam accommodations. The testing administration companies for both the written and the oral exam have procedures for accommodating candidates with disabilities.
Candidates taking the written exam should contact PSI and submit the “Special Arrangement Request Form” to request accommodations prior to scheduling an exam session. The form is included in the PSI candidate bulletin and is available at www.psiexams.com. Candidates may also contact the PSI ADA Services Team at 1-800-733-9267 x 6750.
Candidates taking the oral exam should contact the National Board at staff [at] certifiedmedicalinterpreters [dot] org to request accommodations prior to scheduling an exam session.
What if I hold an RID certificate?
The National Board is consulting with the RID to determine how to include ASL interpreters in this process.
I live out of the country – may I take the exam?
You may take the exams regardless of what country you live in, however they are only offered in the US. The National Board is working closely with other international organizations with the goal to develop an international program. The plan is to offer the exam internationally in the future.
While court interpreting is different from medical interpreting, do you recognize the certification of court interpreters at any level? Do you require court certified interpreters to go through the complete certification process or are there areas of agreement?
Having court certification will meet the prerequisite requirements for proof of language proficiency for L1 and L2, but you would still have to present proof of a medical interpreting training course and take both the written and oral exams to receive your certified medical interpreter credential, CMI.
I am a nurse (or other medical provider) and have extensive knowledge of medical terminology; do I still need formal training as a medical interpreter?
Interpreter education is required according to the CLAS standards (http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=15 ), which state that medical interpreters have to be tested and trained in medical interpreting. Certification tests medical terminology and specialization knowledge, but training relates to interpreting skills, standards, ethics, roles, protocol and other topics that are not covered in medical school. To see a list of available trainings facilities and organizations, please go to www.imiaweb.org/education/trainingnotices.asp A training certificate from a training program of 40-70 hours is the minimum training accepted.
What are the QMI and SMI?
QMI - Qualified Medical Interpreter - for minority languages where the National Board does not have an oral exam. To achieve a QMI the candidate completes the National Board written exam and then an oral exam which is done in partnership with another national testing provider.
SMI - Screened Medical Interpreter - for newly emerging and indigenous languages. The SMI credential is awarded to candidates who successfully complete the National Board written exam and provide a portfolio that includes education, training, experience and affidavits from employers and clients.
These designations will be developed in the future.
How do the CEUs work?
For recertification and our policy on Continuing Education Units, please refer to the CMI Candidate Handbook available on our website – it has an entire section on maintaining your certification.
To find events and workshops in your area, see the International Medical Interpreters Association website at www.imiaweb.org under the “Events” tab. There is a list of IMIA Lifelong Learning Webinars that offer CEU credits, a list of medical terminology boot camps, conferences and more. There is also an events calendar that lists all events in the field, both nationally and internationally. Please also visit their searchable training directory index at www.imiaweb.org/education/trainingnotices.asp
Why does achieving a CMI cost money?
The cost of the exams is an investment in your professional development. In order to bring you an exam that is valid, professionally relevant and accredited, the National Board made considerable investment in research, development, and implementation. Further investment is required to maintain the exams updated, relevant, valid and accredited in the future, as well as cover administrative costs. Current costs are comparable to those of other national certifying organizations. Your investment is made in installments: first the registration, then the written exam and then (if you pass) the oral exam.
QUESTIONS FROM INTERPRETER MANAGERS
Will the hospital agree to fund the cost per interpreter for certification testing? For existing interpreters? For new hires?
Each hospital will decide if it wants to pay for certification of its existing interpreters or new hires. Please discuss the alternatives with your hospital’s Professional Training or HR department.
Will we keep non-certified interpreters on staff? Wouldn’t that present us effectively with two standards of care?
That is the current situation, since ASL interpreters are certified and most spoken language interpreters are not. Currently many hospitals have different levels of requirements or position grades of medical interpreters, higher levels requesting more skills or education. Please contact your hospital’s Professional Training or HR department.
Will the certified interpreter get paid at a higher rate than the non-certified? That could be an incentive for the non-certified to achieve certification status.
Each health care organization decides on the compensation of their interpreters. It is very true that differential pay incentivates employees to acquire new skills, education, or credentials on their own. Please contact your hospital’s Professional Training or HR department to learn about your employer’s professional incentive programs.
Will there be a practice test so we can try it on the interpreters to see if they are ready to take the exam? If the interpreter is not ready, then the question is do we send that person so he/she can get testing experience, or do we wait until he/she improves?
Each institution is free to provide their own practice exams or enroll their interpreters in any of the training programs found in the International Medical Interpreters Association website (www.imiaweb.org/education/trainingnotices.asp). The National Board does not offer practice tests at the present time, but we do offer a free monthly webinar that covers in general what to expect for both the written and oral exams. Please visit our home page on the website to see when the next webinar will be held and how to join.
Many questions are answered in the
Candidate Handbook, available on our website at:
If you don’t find your answers, please contact staff [at] certifiedmedicalinterpreters [dot] org