Interpreter Managers play a critical role in building a team of interpreters that is engaged and invested in the work they do. Still, the reality is that many managers of healthcare interpreters have a “slash” job which can make managing interpreters quite challenging. You have a “slash” job if you introduce yourself to others and it sounds something like this, “Hi! I’m an Interpreter Manager/Trainer/Language Services Coordinator/Swedish<>English Interpreter at the prestigious Makinuwell University Medical Center.” It’s not easy to pull off a role like this. Inevitably, some responsibilities, such as supporting the professional development of the interpreters in your department, take a back seat to the many other priorities that require your attention.
Here are three simple things you can do to invest in the continued professional development of your team of healthcare interpreters:
Interpreters have very busy schedules. Departments need to run as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. A lot of time that means doing more with less and running as many appointments as you can with as few interpreters as possible. Still, interpreters need time for continued learning as part of the performance of their duties. It is an expectation in the interpreter code of ethics. It might even be written into the job description. Opportunity for continuous learning is quite probably part of what your interpreters love about their job and what keeps them energized about the work they do. Block time in your interpreters’ schedule that is reserved for study and professional development.
Interpreters need materials and tools that will facilitate their continued learning. A place to study and a computer with good internet access whose firewall allows reasonable freedom to conduct searches is a good start. Compile a “favorites” list of valuable websites so other team members can more efficiently research information. Start collection of multimedia resources for your department. Collaborate with your hospital’s library to take advantage of existing resources and grow its collection to include items of value to interpreters. Perhaps most importantly, ask the interpreters what tools they need to foster their continued learning.
Show an interest in your interpreters’ continued learning, and encourage them in their continued learning, not as an afterthought, but as a routine part of the workday. Take a few minutes to chat with your interpreters about what new things they’ve learned lately. Ask if they have the time and tools they need to grow their skills and knowledge. If someone on your staff attends a third party training event, provide an outlet for the interpreter to share the learning experience with the entire department. Acknowledge the professional growth that interpreters achieve as a result of their efforts to always learn more.
Interpreter Managers/Many Other Roles, invest in your interpreters' professional development, and you'll have a team of interpreters that is invested in the work of your department.