medical interpreting challenges

Constant Surprises: Life in Medical Interpreting

Going through a medical interpreter training can give you the skills you need to succeed, but they can’t always prepare you for the intense days you’re signing up for.  As staff at a hospital, you never know what kind of injuries, illnesses, or appointments you’ll be witnessing!  This is especially true if you’re doing medical interpreting on a particularly unpredictable ward, like the ER.  Here are just a few examples of circumstances you might experience when offering your interpreting services at a hospital or medical facility.

Scenario 1: Medical Interpreting is Impossible to Do if You Faint Easily

medical interpreting challenges

Imagine this: You’re brought in to provide Russian interpreting for a patient who has nearly cut off some of his fingers at his warehouse job.  While you may know the correct words for ‘fingers’ in Russian, it’s also imperative that you bring a calm, cool demeanor.  Your training means nothing if you faint when you see your patient losing so much blood!  Keep perspective and help the patient to understand what needs to be done to properly care for their wound.  If the dressing needs to be changed or the patient needs to continue care on their own at home, you must ensure they completely understand these instructions before leaving the hospital!

Scenario 2: Medical Interpreting, Even with Uncomfortable Topics

medical interpreting scenarios

You’re brought in to provide Chinese interpreting for a pregnant patient from China who is visiting their OBGYN.  The catch is, you’re a man.  You’ll need to rely on your memories the vocabulary you learned in your medical interpreter course to help you talk about topics you’re not particularly familiar with.  Serve the patient well by walking a fine line between respecting her and participating in conversations that would normally seem confidential or none of your business.  Don’t be shy in asking her whatever the doctors need.  The more ‘modesty’ you try to show, the worse you’ll actually serve the patient.  Stay honest, clear, and relaxed– and the patient will, too.  They’ll also get the best care their doctor can provide.

Scenario 3: Medical Interpreting and Cultural Sensitivity

You’re asked to provide Spanish interpreting for a family that has a sick child.  They also come from a very rural area in Ecuador in the Amazon region.  So they don’t have much experience with US medicine and hospitals.  What’s important here is not just interpreting what’s going on, but  practicing cultural sensitivity.  You must find a way to help the family understand the treatment and diagnoses as they fit into their framework of understanding.  Only then will the family participate to the fullest in helping treat their child.  And this participation is key to helping the child feel better, faster!

  

About Language Connections:

Language Connections is a language service provider.  We specialize in technical, medical and legal translation, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, website and software localization, and corporate language programs and interpreter training. We provide certified, professional translation in 100+ languages including SpanishPortugueseArabicChinese, RussianGerman, and French. With over 20 years of experience, we have expertise in all major industries including the life sciences, patent and immigration law, international business, global education, and advanced technology. We offer cost-efficient interpreting and conference solutions that will meet your multilingual needs for all types of international events – business meetings, conferences, lectures or presentations.

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