Surgical Residents as Certified Bilingual Speakers: A Quality Improvement Initiative

Alex Solomon, Nicholas Calotta, Andrew Kolarich, Zachary Enumah, Mohammad Al Efishat, Mark Kovler, Faris Azar, Elliott R. Haut, Alejandro V. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The objective of this quality improvement initiative was to identify general surgery residents proficient in a non-English language and have each attempt the Clinician Cultural and Linguistic Assessment (CCLA) to become qualified bilingual staff speakers. Methods: General surgery house staff were asked to self-identify as proficient in a language other than English. Fees for the certification examination were waived, and each resident was excused from clinical duties to complete the exam. McNemar's test was used for statistical analysis. Results: All residents responded to the initial survey, with 18/65 reporting a non-English language proficiency. Of the 12 residents who sat for the CCLA exam, 9 (75.0%) passed, with 5 certifying in the most commonly spoken non-English languages at this institution. The number of certified residents increased from 1 to 10 (1.5 % to 15.4%, p = 0.004). Conclusion: Language barriers result in health care disparities for patients with limited English proficiency. This reproducible quality improvement initiative significantly increased the number of qualified bilingual speakers, while 25.0% of self-described proficient speakers did not demonstrate adequate language proficiency. These newly certified providers allow for increased language concordant care, which may be associated with improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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