DCCC Launches State's First Medical Interpreter Program

July 11, 2012 – Beginning this fall semester, Davidson County Community College will be the first community college in North Carolina to offer a degree in medical interpreting to meet a burgeoning demand for professionals in this field.

Demand for certified medical interpreters prompted DCCC, Wake Forest University and Baptist Medical Center to collaborate in developing the innovative program. Job opportunities for medical interpreters, already abundant throughout the Piedmont, are growing. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted jobs for interpreters and translators will grow 22 percent over the next decade, resulting from more rigorous enforcement of federal standards requiring medical institutions to provide interpreters to non-native speakers.

Graduates of DCCC’s two-year program will work in hospitals, health departments, community clinics and doctors’ offices. Published starting pay is $17 an hour with more experienced interpreters making between $25 and $50 an hour.

The field is both demanding and rewarding. Well-trained medical interpreters bridge the gap between the patient and the health professional, bringing more efficiency to the overall operation, whether it’s a clinic or a hospital. Interpreters also prevent misunderstandings and mistakes that can be costly and tragic.

DCCC’s program, focusing on Spanish as the second language, addresses the rapid growth of Spanish-speaking residents in the region. Students enrolling in the program must be fluent in both languages.

Language skills are the foundation for a rigorous curriculum that will teach students the process of interpreting, which goes well beyond simple word-for-word translating. Effective interpretation requires cultural sensitivity and understanding idiomatic expressions that don’t translate literally. Health care interpreters must overlay those skills with a thorough understanding of medical terms and procedures.

“The curriculum is extremely rigorous,” says Jeannine Woody, DCCC vice president of Academic Programs and Services.

During the first year, students will spend most of their time in the classroom taking courses in “Anatomy and Physiology,” “Medical Terminology, Health care in the U.S.,” “Law and Ethics,” and “Analytical Skills for Interpreting.” They will spend the second year primarily in clinical settings doing interpretation under faculty supervision.

As part of the overall program, Wake Forest is offering a master’s degree in Interpreting and Translation Studies. One of its three tracks, Teaching of Interpreting, is the only program in the country educating faculty for college-level interpreting programs. Those graduates will be part of the team of health care experts teaching in the DCCC program.

Medical interpreting is one of the many areas of study available at DCCC. Students interested in learning more about this and other programs at DCCC can do so by visiting davidsonccc.edu. General enrollment deadline for fall 2012 programs at DCCC is Aug. 1. For more information about enrollment, visit davidsonccc.edu/admissions.


Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013. It is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations, and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College on the Web at davidsonccc.edu.