Say What? Barriers to Medical Interpretation at Hershey Medical Center


  • Deep Patel Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA
  • Louis Levine Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
  • Ami DeWaters Department of Internal Medicine, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA



medical interpreters, limited English proficiency, LEP


Previous literature demonstrates that the use of medical interpreters improves the quality of health care for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP); however, this resource is critically underutilized. We surveyed third- and fourth-year medical students, as well as internal medicine residents, to assess barriers to using medical interpreters and solutions to overcoming these barriers. These trainees indicated time (51.32%), access (32.90%) and improper training (7.46%) as the most significant barriers, and suggested formalized training on medical interpretation as a possible solution. The proportion of students reporting each of these perceived barriers did not significantly differ based on level of training (p = 0.31). The effects of formalized training on trainees’ comfort using these services and on the care provided to patients with LEP warrants future study.