Scandinavian Reports

Visiting Norwegian National Centre for Ageing and Health 

The Norwegian National Centre for Ageing and Health was a project developed in 2016 by the Oslo Hospital. Their primary services involve providing translators and interpreters to doctors and medical professionals during consultations with patients. In total, they have 350 total language interpreters in 80 different languages. This past year they conducted and assisted in over 45,000 consultations. The particular hospitals they help are the Oslo University Hospital, Synosse hospital, and other rehabilitation hospitals in Oslo. In 2018, the project became an official part of the Oslo University Hospital as a department.

The department has two main departments within which its staff are split. The first is actually educating and verifying the ability of the interpreters when interacting with doctors/nurses. The need for this organization initially stemmed from the lack of interpreters that kept patients from getting the necessary health care to which they are entitled by law. Even afterward, translators came from private organizations under which there was no standard and led to underqualified translating. To that end, the government was useful in securing educational opportunities for those seeking a career in translation. The Oslo Metropolitan (MET) University introduced a Bachelor’s Degree in translation for those to learn how to become a translator with associated language classes. Ninety-eight percent of the translators at the Norwegian National Centre for Ageing and Health have this degree. The only exception accounts for a language that is not taught at the Oslo MET.

On March 22nd, I had the opportunity to speak with Kjersti Olsen, who works as a managing director in the second half of the department that works in managing the interpreter’s schedule and handling the financial side of the organization. In addition to detailing the history of the organization’s work and governmental funding to me, I learned that her work primarily surrounded receiving doctor requests for translators and scheduling up to two months in advance translators schedules. When asking Olsen if there was a general trend in the types of people who requested translators, Olsen stated that it often followed political history and correlations with age. For example, with recent events, there has been a rise in requests from female patients in both Ukrainian and Russian. Urdic is also a commonly requested language from the elderly population who visit the hospital. The rarity of Urdu in younger populations comes from the fact that they have likely learned Norwegian as they grow up. According to Olsen, the most common language requests they get are Arabic, Somali, Urdu, and Russian.

The Norwegian National Centre for Ageing and Health office is located in a separate building on the same site as the Oslo University Hospital. If wishing to visit from the south end of Oslo, I would recommend taking the Ruter 31 Bus line from the Jernbanetorget station for 7 stops until you reach Aker sykehus. From there, it’s only a two-minute walk. The office space is located on the 5th floor of the building.

The area of the office’s operations was quite interesting. It quite literally looked like a hospital ward and it leads me to wonder if the building had previously been used as a part of the hospital. The corridor within which many of the office spaces in which each employee of the Norwegian National Centre for Ageing and Health resided looked like a hospital room. I think Olsen had a lot to provide and additional interviewing of this organization is not necessary.

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