QBS Assessment

Qualified Bilingual Staff Assessment

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The Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) Assessment is a tool developed by Kaiser Permanente and administered by ALTA. The purpose of the QBS exam is to determine the level of target language proficiency of medical staff members who identify themselves as bilingual. Specifically, the QBS is designed to assess staff members’ ability to directly communicate with target language-speaking patients in a medical setting, and, secondarily, it aims to measure interpreting skills for a range of medical terminology and tasks.

The QBS assessment is administered via the telephone and is available twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, with results available within forty-eight business hours. All prompts are pre-recorded to ensure that test-takers have an identical testing experience.

Once your organization is registered, you will be provided access to ALTA’s site for generating candidate codes. One code must be generated for each candidate taking the exam. The code is unique to the candidate it is generated for, and is good for one use only. Candidates simply dial the number provided, enter their access code, and follow the system prompts.

To learn how we can help you with Language Testing, please fill out our Contact Form.

QBS Exam Structure

The exam is divided into 5 sections:

Conversational/Social
Section I is an introduction and warm-up exercise intended to help put the candidates at ease with the recording system and to allow them to practice their target language briefly prior to the formal portion of the exam.

Customer Service
Section II of the exam contains 11 dialogues that the candidate must interpret from English into the target language or from the target language into English.

Nursing Diagnosis and Instructions
Section III of the exam contains a dialogue between a nurse and a patient that the candidate must interpret in both English and the target language.

Medical Terminology
This section assesses a candidate’s knowledge of medical terminology in both English and the target language.

Sight Translation
This section assesses the candidate’s ability to perform a simple sight translation.

How The QBS Is Scored

The exam is scored using objective scoring units and a subjective assessment protocol. The objective units represent significant words, phrases, and clauses that are found in and critical to staff/patient communication. These include specialized medical terminology, register variation, rhetorical features, general vocabulary, grammatical structures, and appropriate sociocultural discourse. Candidates are also assessed in the five subjective scoring categories of “Pronunciation,” “Grammar,” “Conduit Role,” “Conveying the Meaning,” and “Fluidity in Language Transition.”

QBS Test Levels

  1. Level 1: Ability to provide services in the target language where knowledge of medical terminology is not required.
  2. Level 2: Ability to provide services in the target language in various healthcare settings.

A candidate must score a prescribed percentage and achieve an acceptable performance level on the subjective scoring scale in order to obtain a passing score.

To register your organization for Language Testing, or if you have additional questions, please contact Derek Ford by email or telephone at 404.920.3832.

Languages Offered

  • Amharic
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  • Cambodian
  • Chinese (Cantonese)
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
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  • French
  • Haitian Creole
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