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Medical interpreters represent a valuable resource for positively affecting the health of populations with limited English proficiency. Global Wordsmiths, a social enterprise based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, explored the experiences and needs of their medical interpreters using a survey adapted from a variety of qualified sources in health care quality improvement, health literacy, and needs assessments of populations with limited English proficiency. Participant voices suggest the presence of multiple roles of medical interpreters beyond word for word translation as well as lack of adequate training and psychosocial support among the profession. The presence of multiple roles outside their defined job responsibilities and need for more psychosocial support hinders medical interpreters’ ability to positively affect health care access, quality, and outcomes among populations with limited English proficiency. As such, we identify a vital need for health literacy research and practice to further investigate medical interpreters’ experiences.
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