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Importance of Medical Interpreters in Hospitals

By Edited Jan 10, 2014 0 0

The number of U.S. residents whose primary language is something other than English is increasing every year. That is why the need for medical interpreters in hospitals is on the rise. Especially in the healthcare field, clear and accurate communication between people is crucial. The patient must be able to communicate his or her ailments to the doctor so that the doctor knows how to proceed. Likewise, doctors must make sure that patients understand their instructions, diagnoses, and questions. Language barriers can often complicate this, but medical interpreters are there to get through the barriers and serve as conduits between doctor and patient. Hospitals that provide medical interpreters attract more international and foreign-language patients and reduce their risk of medical malpractice.

So what makes a good interpreter?

This might or might not come as a surprise, but many great medical interpreters do not have a college degree. The main requirement for a good medical interpreter is the ability to convey complex ideas from one language to the other. To do this they must have full mastery of both languages, meaning they must be able to speak and write both fluently; and they must be able to think on their feet. A lot of the times, this ability comes simply from practice and from being immersed in both languages daily. A live interview is the only way to properly gauge an interpreter's qualifications.

Unlike regular translators, however, medical interpreters must have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of key medical terms. They must know how to translate the names of commonly used medical instruments, medicines and procedures and be able to explain them to the patient as well. There are schools who offer special certification programs for medical interpreters, which some hospitals like to see, especially if the candidate does not have a lot of experience in the field.

Once again, however, the most important thing is an interpreter's ability to convey the appropriate meanings from one party to the other. Medical terminology can be learned fairly quickly, but an interpreter must also be able to deal with unexpected conversations. Meaning he or she must know how to speak about sensitive, personal health information with patients.

There are many online resources when you need to find a medical translator in a short period of time.



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