Health Administration and Policy Program
“Perceptions of Quality Care in Latinos with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) when accessing interpretation services”
Currently, many bilingual medical staff or bilingual friends or relatives of non-English speakers act as interpreters, despite the preference for professional interpreters in healthcare facilities by the DHHS. The research examines the effectiveness of care by medically trained staff professionals and interpretation services provided by ad hoc interpreters (i.e., any non-trained professionals). The goal of the study is to discover if medial staff interpreters or ad hoc interpreters provide better patient-perceived access to quality health care services for Hispanics with limited English proficiency. I will assess the patient-perceptions of quality care using a questionnaire within the Baltimore-D.C region.
When did you join the McNair program?
I joined the McNair Scholars Program in January 2015.
How did you find out about McNair?
I saw a posting in the Commons, advertising a program for minority students interested in pursuing undergraduate research. I decided to find the McNair office on campus and went inside to apply.
What have you gained from being a McNair scholar?
As a McNair Scholar, I have gained a vast amount of research knowledge and skills that have translated from classroom lectures to actual practice in the field. Additionally, I have gained mentors and professional contacts that I plan to expand upon as I ascend into my graduate studies.
What is your most recent independent research project?
Currently, I am in the process of concluding my most recent research project that I started over a year ago. I researched the impact of different forms of medical interpreters on the receipt of quality healthcare for individuals with limited English. Although I focused primarily on Spanish-speaking populations, I would like to include other limited English proficiency (LEP) populations in the U.S.
Who is your mentor? How did you find your mentor for this project?
I initially met my mentor, Dr. Luis Pinet Peralta of the HAPP department, when I took my first HAPP course, HAPP 100. I was deeply impressed by Dr. Peralta’s comprehensive knowledge of Health Policy and dedication to the field and thought that he would be a great fit. It was through taking this initial HAPP course with Dr. Peralta that I fell in love with the field.
How did you know this was the project you wanted to do?
I grew up in a very diverse county in New Jersey and as such I had always been surrounded by multilingual friends. Yet, growing up, I often noticed that my friends had to act as interpreters for their parents with LEP. I always wondered what impact this might have on the delivery of health care.
How much time do you put into this project?
I typically work on my research project from 10 to 25 hours per week as I spend a lot of time conducting my research in the field.
What academic background did you have before you started?
Prior to beginning my research, I had been a degree candidate in the Health Administration and Policy Program for one and a half years. However, I had been a Modern Languages and Linguistics major, prior to switching to the HAPP program. I believe that my extensive course background in both of these fields prepared me to effectively tackle this project.
How much did your mentor help you with your research?
My mentor had been extremely helpful to the success of my research. I tend to have a very independent-oriented approach towards my projects. However, Dr. Peralta was always available to contribute his expertise and make suggestions as my research progressed. He actively made sure to emphasize concise writing, the importance of ample sources, and an understanding of how my research could continue into my post-graduate career.
What has been the hardest part about your research?
The analysis of my data was definitely the most difficult part of my research, yet still the most rewarding. In beginning my research, I had absolutely no idea how to analyze my data or even how to approach a statistical analysis software system. I invested time in relearning analysis skills that I learned in research courses that I took throughout my undergraduate career and consulting my mentor to assure that I was on the correct path. Yet, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment after completing this portion of my research.
What was the most unexpected thing?
Normally, I tend to be very introverted. However, working and talking with study participants in the field were some of the easiest and most enjoyable experiences of my undergraduate career.
How does your research relate to your work in other classes?
I found several correlations between my research and much of my classwork. I had taken several courses in research methods prior to starting my research and was familiar with many of the concepts involved with research. I had also extensively studied linguistics and had just completed a course in healthcare policy and regulation before beginning my research. The latter course helped to familiarize me with much of the regulation and policy surrounding interpretation practices in the healthcare field.
What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?
I would suggest that you identify a topic that you find interesting in your field and commit to it. Research can be very strenuous and time consuming; if you don’t find your topic interesting then researching it can be very grueling.
What are your career goals?
I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Health Services and establish a medical interpretation company to improve translation and interpretation services in inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities.
Are you a transfer student to UMBC?
Yes, I studied at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island before coming to UMBC.