One of the biggest threats to minority health is a lack of access to quality health-care services as a result of language and cultural barriers. Let’s put this into perspective. Have you ever had to face the challenges of understanding the complexities of a newly diagnosed medical condition? Or help a loved one manage their medication after being released from the hospital? Can you imagine being tasked with trying to decipher this information and facing these same challenges while also trying to overcome language and cultural barriers?

Differences in language and culture, when not addressed, can potentially lead to miscommunication between patients and health-care providers, resulting in misunderstandings, safety errors, loss of information and poor shared-decision making.  As the U.S. continues to grow in diversity – the census bureau predicts the U.S. will shift to a “majority-minority” nation by 2043 – these challenges could increase.

This is why providing linguistically and culturally appropriate health-care services is central to providing high-quality care and vital to improving minority health. Since 2007, the Center on Health Disparities at Adventist HealthCare has provided language interpretation and translation services, and partnered with community organizations to make quality health-care and services accessible to all in our community. Through its Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) program, the Center has trained more than 500 health-care providers across the region. Currently, Adventist HealthCare has more than 200 staff members serving as QBS interpreters.

“My work fills a large part of my life. Everyday spending quality time with those who need someone they can relate to is very rewarding, and like any relationship in life, my job gets better and better as the years roll on.” 

—Rocio Pineda, Cultural Diversity Liaison and Qualified Bilingual Staff, Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center 

Are you a bilingual health-care provider? You can help improve minority health through taking part in the following training and educational opportunities.

  • Become certified and trained in proper interpreting skills during a medical encounter through our QBS program. For more information, contact Talya Frelick, Project Manager, Center on Health Disparities, at 301-315-3777 or
  • Check out this free resource guide  for health-care professional educators from the Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. Find free teaching tools to help improve learners’ delivery of culturally and linguistically-appropriate health-care services to diverse populations, and reduce health disparities in your community.