Medical Interpreters Should Focus on WIIFM, not CEUs

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One of the most common questions I get from certified medical interpreters and certified healthcare interpreters is, “Can I get CEUs for your courses?” The answer is “yes,” but I can’t help but crinkle my nose just a tiny bit. It's a completely relevant and valid question, but it’s like going to the store and asking the clerk, “Will that fill up my grocery cart?” without bothering to evaluate the item’s benefit to you and your health. Sure, you can fill your cart with loaves upon loaves of bread and nothing else, but I’m guessing you’ll wish you had given some consideration to adding items from the other food groups before the week is done.

If your only qualifier for taking a course (or avoiding one) is based on whether or not it will help you fill up your CEU cart, chances are pretty good you’re missing out on some essential nutrients. 

You run the risk of sitting through courses that do little to grow your professional skills because they focus on areas that you are already good at performing or because the subject matter is already very familiar to you. You also run the risk of missing out on learning things and developing skills that could help you grow professionally because you avoid courses and topics that haven’t been CEU approved. In either situation, you lose out. 

Instead of asking about CEUs first, try asking WIIFM? That is what’s in it for me? That question seems kind of egocentric, and it is. But this is one area where egocentrism it a positive thing. It’s your professional development, and it should be about you. As a credentialed interpreter, you know what’s relevant to your work. That should be the primary consideration for any investment in continuing education courses.

Yes, pay attention to the CEU requirement for recertification, but don’t let that be your ultimate or only qualifier for taking continuing education courses. There’s plenty to learn and know, and you know better than anyone where your gaps are and what will be the most valuable for your professional development.

What are your primary considerations when selecting continuing education opportunities? I invite you to share your comments!

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