You don’t have to have decades of experience interpreting in healthcare to start picking up on insider information. You know. Those truths about what it means to be an interpreter, especially in medical settings. Some things you might have been alerted to in your initial training program. Some things you might have figured out along the way.
Here’s a look at five things I know about interpreting:
1. You must be fluent.
This means you can talk to someone at the same rate of speed you would use to tell your mom about a big event that just happened in your life. Take a look:
Mom, it’s a girl!
Compared with. . .
Mother… is it… I mean, um… it is… ah, um… a boy?…no, wait!… a girl.
Not the same, are they?
2. There is an established Code of Ethics.
This set of rules gives you a basic outline of critical musts for the work you do. They tell us, “Interpreters are not helpers. Interpreters provide a service that is helpful.”
Make sure you don’t confuse the two.
3. From birth to death and everywhere in between!
You will be exposed to sights, smells and sounds that you have never imagined. People will invite you into their most vulnerable moments. This is a gift. Make sure you honor that gift with respect and dignity.
4. Sleep is overrated.
You will be asked to work at all hours of the day and night. Healthcare doesn’t take off for holidays. It doesn’t take vacation. No one plans to be ill or injured but, when it does happen, they go for medical attention. That’s when your services will be needed.
5. People are awesome!
Well most of them. You will meet people from all walks of life. Politics, family, culture, personal and professional preferences will run abound as you interact with healthcare staff and their patients.
What are some of the things you know about interpreting?