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HCIN is now the repository for the Interpreting in Palliative Care curriculum developed by the California HealthCare Foundation. The free materials below will enable a qualified trainer of medical interpreters to present a seven-hour training session. Please read below for background information and instructions.

Individual interpreters who want to learn how to work effectively in palliative care settings should enroll in the self-paced online course at HCIN Learn.


Training Curriculum: Interpreting in Palliative Care

  • Lessons (376KB) download
  • Handouts (10.7MB) download
  • Introductory Powerpoint (3.3MB) download
  • Introductory Powerpoint (extended version) (4.4MB) download
  • Lesson 2 Video (Scene 1 of 3) (103MB) download
  • Lesson 2 Video (Scene 2 of 3) (86MB) download
  • Lesson 2 Video (Scene 3 of 3) (96MB) download
  • Complete Curriculum Bundle (294MB ZIP file, includes all files above, plus instructions below) download


Palliative care seeks to optimize quality of life and relieve physical and emotional suffering through pain management, comfort care, and spiritual support. A 2010 survey of patients in public hospitals receiving palliative care found that 40% spoke limited English. Since palliative care depends on regular, clear communication among providers, patients, and families, interpreters are key members of any palliative care team.

For interpreters, conversations involving palliative care, especially those at the end of life, can be among the most difficult to convey — not only linguistically and culturally, but personally. Yet to date, there has been little training for interpreters in this field.

This seven-hour workshop curriculum is free and can be downloaded. Note that the curriculum was designed for health care interpreter trainers to use in preparing experienced medical interpreters to work in palliative care settings. The most common non-English languages in California are provided: traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Additionally, the workshop curriculum is available as a self-paced web-based course, developed by Health Care Interpreter Network (HCIN) in conjunction with CHCF and workshop co-author Cynthia Roat. The $35 web-based course covers the same topics as the original workshop and is appropriate for individual self-study by interpreters of all languages. One segment, in which interpreters practice palliative care discussions, is available for Spanish/English interpreters; other languages will be added in the future. The course is available at HCIN Learn, http://learn.hcin.org.

How to Use the Curriculum:

The curriculum comprises four pieces:

—The Lessons document, including helpful samples for a student survey, class outline and template, workshop schedule, sign-in sheet, and detailed lesson plans, is available as a PDF. It totals 74 pages and is formatted for double-sided printing.

—The Handouts document, including the interpreting practice dialogues in the various target languages, is available as a PDF. It totals 200 pages and is formatted for double-sided printing.

—The PowerPoint Presentation provides an introductory lecture on palliative care and is available as a PowerPoint file. In addition, an Expanded PowerPoint Presentation is available that can be used either as a more detailed substitute for the original PowerPoint within the course (requires additional time, so other material will need to be omitted) or as supplemental preparation for the trainer. Be sure to take advantage of the lecture notes under each slide.

—The Videos, used in Lesson 2, are available for download. These three MP4 files are large, 85MB to 103MB each. If you prefer, you can access the clips via YouTube rather than downloading the files:
——Scene 1 at http://youtu.be/OiaSbQX6mV0
——Scene 2 at http://youtu.be/_RCSV5zaV24
——Scene 3 at http://youtu.be/XMyERZkZTPw

NB: The Complete Curriculum Bundle includes all materials listed, as well as these instructions. This is a large (~300 MB) ZIP file, and requires a ZIP extraction tool to access the documents.


This training curriculum was authored by Cynthia E. Roat, MPH, Anne Kinderman, MD, and Alicia Fernandez, MD. The curriculum was commissioned and published by California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), which also supported HCIN's development of the online self-study version of the course.

CHCF is a nonprofit grantmaking philanthropy based in Oakland, California. CHCF supports ideas and innovations that improve quality, increase efficiency, and lower the costs of care.


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