What defines a “professional interpreter” in healthcare?
Professionals don’t stand on a soap box and say how amazing they are. They put their head down and do what they can to improve their skills every day. No one wants to hear how they’re going to hell if they don’t use a professional interpreter.
In my humble opinion, “professional” means that a person has a broad scope of knowledge related to a specific field. They should know the history of their industry and be able to speak to the various points of its foundation.
It is not enough to know the code of ethics. A professional interpreter must be able to explain the code of ethics to someone outside the field of interpreting. In order to do that they must also be able to apply their tools and relate them to real life. Analogies go a long way.
People know when they’re working with a professional. You do, and choose to, every day. Make sure you mimic those skills and abilities. Professionalism is integrity, compassion, work ethic, and service.
Don’t limit your scope to championing patients. Champion those who are choosing to serve the needs of those patients. Putting someone down or trying to scare them into using professional interpreter services doesn’t make you a professional. It makes you a bully.
Professional interpreters make people feel included. They EMPOWER so that relationships are built and sustained with or without them. Professional interpreters allow adults to be adults. If you feel like you need to be a babysitter, then you’re not doing your job.
Being prepared means a professional always seeks information and education. It is not enough to do what you’ve always done. And it is never enough to assume you are at the top of your game. True professionals always seek more and invest in themselves wisely. They find what adds value to their skills and yes, even pay for it.
If you work alongside other professionals then you must do the same amount of work to match their professionalism. It doesn’t work to be next to a doctor and have a basic understanding that a code of ethics exists. It works even less when your whole purpose is to help. You must be there to serve.
Healthcare interpreting is a noble profession. But we must all understand what “professional” means. If you needed an interpreter would you choose you?
© Connecting Cultures 2018