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Filling a Great Need

Gathering of students in the RIT/NTID master's in health care interpretation.To help meet the growing demand for specialized sign language health care interpreters as more deaf and hard-of-hearing professionals enter medical/health care fields, increase the number of specialized sign language interpreters working in patient health care settings, and to prepare interpreters to work in administrative roles to ensure language access to patients in hospital settings, RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and College of Health Sciences and Technology have teamed up to develop a first-of-its-kind master’s degree in health care interpretation. The degree provides training for currently certified interpreters with specific interest in working in health care environments.

“We are excited about this new venture with NTID in a graduate-level degree for health care interpreters,” said Richard Doolittle, vice dean for RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology. “Our collaboration will help ensure these highly skilled interpreters receive the kind of medical technical training they will need to succeed in health care settings.”

According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2012 and 2022, there will be 46-percent employment growth for interpreters and translators, much faster than the average for all occupations. The field is on track to add more than 29,000 positions during that time period. Graduates of the program may find work as staff interpreters, freelance interpreters, or on a per-diem basis in health care, health care education and health care research settings nationwide.

“The program will provide in-depth specialized education in the field of health care interpretation that is not currently available to interpreters,” said Kim Kurz, chairperson of NTID’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Education Department, which will house the new degree program. “The program will appeal to certified interpreters aspiring to direct their careers into health care environments, as well as to interpreters who currently are working in the health care field.”

The program begins with a one-week, on-campus residency professional seminar, with the remainder of the program delivered online.

“The advanced skill sets required to interpret in health care, health care education, and health care research environments constitute an emerging specialization in the interpreting profession,” said Gerry Buckley, president of NTID and vice president and dean for RIT. “There are currently no programs in the United States that offer a master’s degree in health care interpretation, and we are proud to be the first to provide this type of educational experience to meet the growing demand.”