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Indiana Latino Institute creates medical interpretation scholarship to address language barriers

Common medical instruments, including a blood pressure cuff, affixed to a doctor office wall.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
Only a little more than one-half of the Latino population report having a personal physician or health care provider — the lowest rate among other population groups in Indiana.

The Indiana Latino Institute wants to address language barriers in health care for Spanish-speaking patients. The organization will provide financial aid for 50 Latino college students to complete a medical interpretation training program through a new scholarship.

The scholarship was created to address the growing demand for interpreters and a lack of access within health care.

Only a little more than one-half of the Latino population report having a personal physician or health care provider — the lowest rate among other population groups in Indiana.

This is, in part, due to language and cultural barriers between patient and provider. That’s where medical interpreters come in.

Andrew Peñalva is the director of workforce development at the Indiana Latino Institute. He said the organization hopes to meet the demand for interpreters.

“The amount of people that have a need for bilingual medical interpreters when they're in these medical settings, such as hospitals, you know what, outweighs the number of interpreters that there are,” Peñalva said.

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Indiana’s Hispanic and Latino population has more than tripled since 1990, and many households primarily speak Spanish.

Peñalva said medical interpreters relay important medical information in critical settings.

“It can help reduce trauma and anxiety of the situation. And another thing it can really do is help build trust between the patient and their health care providers,” he said. 

Peñalva said the scholarship application has a rolling deadline. Once an application is received, students are assessed for their proficiency in Spanish and English. Previous medical interpretation experience is not required for the program.

Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at aruhman@wboi.org.

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Abigail Ruhman covers statewide health issues. Previously, they were a reporter for KBIA, the public radio station in Columbia, Missouri. Ruhman graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.