So, you think you can interpret in healthcare?

Let’s face it. Not all teachers have what it takes to handle Kindergarten, and not all nurses have what it takes to handle the ICU. The same can be said for interpreters. Not all interpreters can handle international affairs and not all interpreters can handle healthcare. With that in mind, I posed the following scenario to the healthcare interpreters at Connecting Cultures:

Imagine you just met someone who has been an interpreter at the United Nations for three years. She says she really enjoys interpreting and is quite good at it, but is not finding "life at the UN" to be all that she had hoped for. She has been thinking about making a switch to interpreting in the healthcare field.

What would you do or say to help her decide if healthcare would be a good fit for her?

Here are a few of the interpreters’ responses . . .

  • I would ask her if she's ok with seeing needles, blood, etc. It's not good to be in a medical setting if you know you'll get squeamish.
  • Above all, I think she should make sure she feels comfortable with and is able to follow the Code of Ethics for interpreters in healthcare.
  • I would mention that each day is likely to be different from the last.
  • I would mention that in the medical setting it is very important to be a patient person.
  • Medical interpreting requires the individual to have a very broad vocabulary and the flexibility to jump from one scenario to the next without becoming personally involved.
  • Depending on where you will work, if there is a big population of the ethnic group you will be working with, expect to be recognized everywhere you go.

Are you a healthcare interpreter? How would you respond?

Posted on February 19, 2013 and filed under Newbie.