Interpreter Managers: Your Team Needs Resources!


This post is a continuation of the series for interpreter managers that covers six steps that are essential to creating a great place for interpreters to work.  This post focuses on the third step: Resources.

Professionals need access to resources of all kinds. Rock climbers need ropes and harnesses. Pilots need access to FAA regulations and preflight checklists. Mechanics need access to tools and engine schematics.

Professionals who work in the healthcare field also need resources. Think about the medical professionals in your organization and the resources they depend on to do their job and perform at their best.  Interpreters, like other professionals, also need resources. So, let’s take a look at easy ways you can provide resources that help to create a great work environment for your professional interpreters. 

Basic needs:  water, food, rest

This is the easy one. Have grab-and-go items available. Affordable ways to help interpreters do their job well in the field could be bottles of water, snack bars, microwave soups, breath mints and even candies.   

It is important to remember that interpreting is hard work.  Be mindful of how many appointments your interpreters are taking on or being assigned. This will give you a perspective on their stress levels and opportunities to minimize that stress.  Make sure they get a regular breather.   

This isn’t always possible.  Some days will require them to run, run, run both literally and figuratively.  Acknowledge their extra workload and show your appreciation.  Maybe giving them a nice water bottle that can be refilled easily would be a great way to do that!  Just make sure the interpreter isn’t taking on extra workload day after day.  That is a sure way to burn your interpreter out.  Good interpreters are hard to find, so do what you can to keep them on your team! 

Learning resources:  books, Internet sites, dictionaries, reference materials

Books about the medical environment and dictionaries can give great context to an encounter the interpreter hasn't worked yet. Books that cover the human aspect of health care can provide empathy and understanding about the patient populations and health care providers.  Perspective and empathy are keys to great interpreting.  

Interpreters will not have firsthand experiences with all areas they are interpreting in, so any human interest perspective they can gain will be valuable. Compiling a list of valuable electronic resources from the Internet will make research easier and save time. Who can't use a little extra time! Not sure where to start? Check out the Resources page of our website for some leads. 

Regardless of the resources you provide, it is important to make sure that they provide answers.  Asking the right questions is critical, so make sure you use the resources wisely.  Reading a book or website from beginning to end isn’t always necessary.  Make sure you use the table of contents, indexes and site maps.  These things will also help you determine which resources are best before you invest in your infrastructure or break into your budget and buy. 

Infection control:  hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, surgical masks

Help your interpreting team keep a clean working environment in the field and at the office. Hand sanitizer can be used to keep hands free of germs that can cause the interpreter or others around them to become ill.  You can buy small, travel-sized containers at minimal cost.   

Disinfecting wipes can be used to clean phones, keyboards, door handles and steering wheels.  Have these on hand is a great tool for interpreters who travel from site to site. You can even save by buying in bulk and repackaging smaller amounts in travel-friendly Baggies. 

Surgical masks are readily available at many facilities, but why not also supply your team with masks? That way they can have a few on hand and not have to scramble to find one when they need one. Just be sure to also train on how to properly put on, take off, and dispose of the masks. Be sure to emphasize that masks should never be reused. Also be sure to emphasize that there are many kinds of masks that have different uses. Make sure your team knows what kind of mask to use in different situations and how to use them. The same goes for other types of personal protective equipment. Masks, and all PPE, are a win-win for interpreters, providers and patients alike. 

This is not a comprehensive list.  There are so many ways to take this idea and make it fit with your organization and team.  

Demonstrate to your team that you care about their health and professional success by making sure they have the resources they need. This is great business because it can support your goal of minimizing turnover and save you money.  It can also attract the best interpreters.  The more you can do for them, the more they’ll do for you.  This gives you the greatest likelihood of meeting your customer demand for language services by having a well-prepared team of interpreters.

Other posts in this series:

  • Attention: Interpreter Managers
  • Collaboration: A Win-Win for Medical Interpreters and their Managers
  • How to Create Collaborative Healthcare Interpreter Teams