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ALTA Language Services Partners with AMN Healthcare Language Services To Expand Language Proficiency Testing in Healthcare Systems

ALTA Language Services and AMN Healthcare Language Services announced an exciting partnership that will expand language proficiency testing and promote health equity.

“Our partnership with ALTA Language Services reflects our deep commitment to health equity by providing solutions that give patients the ability to truly communicate their needs, actively participate in their care, and ultimately improve their health outcomes as a result,” Jacobia Solomon, president of AMN Language Services said in a December 2023 press release.

ALTA is the industry leader in language proficiency testing nationwide and administers reliable assessments in more than 100 languages each year.

Keep reading to learn more about the partnership between ALTA Language Services and AMN Healthcare Language Services, including ALTA’s language proficiency testing services.

What Are the 5 Types of Language Tests?

The partnership between ALTA Language Services and AMN Healthcare Language Services means an expansion of language proficiency testing for the healthcare field. AMN Healthcare Language Services will now have a platform to test language proficiency and qualify bilingual staff and medical interpreters.

ALTA offers five types of language proficiency tests. These language tests cover reading comprehension, speaking, writing skills, listening skills, and translation and interpretation.

The five language proficiency tests include:

  • The speaking and listening assessment. This is ALTA’s most popular language test and determines a candidate’s ability to carry on a conversation in the target language.
  • The written assessment. The written test examines grammar, spelling, idea organization, and sentence style.
  • The reading comprehension assessment. This online test shows how well the candidate can read and understand the target language.
  • The interpretation assessment. The interpretation exam is conducted via a live phone call and assesses how well the candidate can interpret between two speakers.
  • The translation assessment. Candidates are tested on how well they can translate written ideas, phrases, and nuances from one language to another.

Why Assess Employees’ Language Proficiency Levels?

There are many reasons why healthcare providers need to assess employees’ language proficiency levels. Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made it a legal obligation for bilingual staff to pass a qualifying exam before providing healthcare services in a second language.

Language proficiency tests also help make the medical field more equitable. A commitment to language proficiency certification shows that the healthcare provider is dedicated to ensuring that each patient fully understands their medical needs and feels comfortable asking questions.

Bilingual employees also benefit because, once they pass the language skills test, they can expand their services and start working with patients who speak a language other than English.

Who Benefits from Language Assessments?

Healthcare employers and employees both benefit from language skills tests, but patients often see the most benefits.

Healthcare settings can be scary and overwhelming for patients, even if they speak the same language as their healthcare provider. Patients who don’t speak the same language are often left confused about their treatment plans and medical needs.

Sometimes, healthcare settings can connect a bilingual staff member with a patient, but if the staff member has not taken a language skills test, there is no guarantee that they have the specific language skills needed to provide accurate medical translations.

Language assessments are the only way to guarantee that medical assistants, healthcare providers, and any other bilingual staff members are equipped to provide effective communication for patients.

Language Testing and Services for Healthcare Providers

ALTA leads the industry in language testing for healthcare providers. ALTA offers a variety of language assessments for the medical field based on the individual’s level of involvement. Tests are available for:

  • non-clinical staff
  • nurses
  • doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants
  • medical interpreters
  • behavioral health staff, dentists, speech therapists, and physical therapists

What Are the Assessments for Language Proficiency in Healthcare?

Medical language assessments are an essential way to make sure bilingual healthcare providers and staff can provide services in two languages. Available language proficiency tests include:

  • The Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) Assessment. This test was developed by Kaiser Permanente and is an effective tool to test how well medical staff can directly communicate in a healthcare setting in the target language.
  • The Clinician Cultural and Linguistic Assessment. This tool was also developed by Kaiser Permanente and is designed to test how well bilingual physicians can provide culturally sensitive care without interpreters.
  • Bilingual Medical Assessment. This is an over-the-phone oral test to determine how well medical staff can communicate in the context of medical scenarios using healthcare vocabulary.
  • Speaking and Listening Assessment. This is more of a general language test that examines how well the participant can understand and communicate in the target language. Specific questions can be added for nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists, social workers, and other medical professionals.

What is an Example of a Language Proficiency Test?

Language proficiency tests are available in over 100 languages and come in many different formats. Anyone who is preparing for a language skills test can utilize practice tests on the ALTA website to get an idea of what to expect.

Practice tests are available for:

ALTA also offers healthcare-specific practice tests for:

  • Patient Discharge Translation. This test evaluates the effectiveness of a written translation for patient discharge instructions.
  • Clinician Cultural and Linguistic Assessment. This sample test includes a recording, script, prompts, and sample answers. Prompts include “Ask a patient if their eye itches” or “Explain to the mother that her little boy may have an eye infection or allergy.”
  • Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) Assessment. This test has four sections that cover sight translation, dialog, medical terminology, and dialog interpretation between a provider and a patient.
  • Bilingual Medical Assessment. This Spanish/English test has four sections that test communication in the target language, medical terminology, dialog interpretation between a medical assistant and a patient, and handling a difficult situation.

Using these practice tests can help anyone prepare for a medical language proficiency test, especially since more healthcare companies will be able to administer these tests easily, thanks to the partnership between AMN Healthcare Language Services and ALTA Language Services.

Language proficiency testing is a way to make sure patients receive the best quality care possible.

“Both the patient and the healthcare providers benefit from this innovative solution as it ensures compliance, reduces risks, and validates practitioners’ abilities to deliver medical services in languages other than English. This enhances the quality and accessibility of healthcare services for diverse patient populations,” said ALTA’s CEO Rob Jones in a press release. “We are excited to partner with AMN Healthcare Language Services to provide better patient care and to make sure that all patients get access to quality and equitable healthcare services.”

Contact our team today to learn more about the partnership or ALTA’s language testing services.

Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based travel blogger and freelance content creator. You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.

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