Involving foreign-language speaking simulated patients in medical interpreter training: A qualitative study


  • Céline Van De Walle Ghent University
  • July De Wilde Ghent University
  • Ellen Van Praet Ghent University


Medical interpreter training, interdisciplinary training project, student interpreters, trainers, simulated patients


This paper reports on an interdisciplinary training initiative involving student interpreters and medical students. It provides qualitative evidence on how the stakeholders involved perceive the effects of including foreign-language speaking simulated patients (SPs) in medical interpreter training. We conducted three focus group interviews, during which we explored the perspectives of different stakeholders involved in the interdisciplinary training. The first focus group involved three clinical communication trainers and four interpreter trainers, the second focus group comprised eight student interpreters and the third focus group involved three SPs. The data was analysed using NVivo 12 software. The results reveal that the presence of foreign-language speaking SPs generated an increased level of authenticity, a higher degree of affective social distance, an increased interactional and linguistic complexity, increased (language) learning potential and an increased level of stress vis à vis regular interpreting classes in which traditional role plays were used. All stakeholders deem working with foreign-language speaking SPs highly beneficial, as the added value and advantages of working with SPs outweighed the disadvantages.