What to Look for In a Medical Interpreter

Female carer treating senior couple

Today, seamless communication is an imperative aspect of any business to maintain a competitive edge in the market. This is no different when it comes to healthcare facilities. As a medical practitioner, there are times that you may encounter patients with limited English Proficiency or no knowledge of English at all. At this point, you are going to need the services of a language facilitator, otherwise known as an interpreter.

Even with the most skilled clinician, it will be almost impossible to make an accurate diagnosis and offer high-quality services without a well-trained and qualified interpreter with proficiency in the medical terminologies and systems. Therefore, when selecting a medical interpreter, you must be very careful to ensure you are getting the right candidate.

Tembua, Inc. highlights the top traits to look for in a medical interpreter.

In-depth Knowledge of Medical Terminology

A medical interpreter should be conversant with the medical jargon in both the source and target languages. With the different healthcare specialties, the interpreter will need a deeper understanding to be able to convey the clinical information. Simply being multilingual but lacking the technical knowledge may not be enough to qualify as a medical interpreter. Therefore, interpreting agencies will need to focus on this point to narrow down on an ideal candidate for medical interpretation.

Respectful of the Register

When offering global interpreting services, a medical interpreter should respect the speaker’s register. Even if the doctor uses jargon, which the patient may not understand, the interpreter is not supposed to simplify it. Convey it as it is and let the patient say if he or she does not understand. Let the doctor simplify it then you can relay the simplified message. Similarly, even if the doctor or patient speaks angrily or swears, interpret it in the exact register. Do not change the tone to make the speaker polite.

Cultural Competence

Medical interpretation may touch on personal subjects, that may require cultural etiquette, and other sensitive topics. A good medical interpreter must be comfortable with the culture of the native speaker and make the patient comfortable enough to open up about their condition.

On-Demand Availability

Hospital work is constant and highly unpredictable. It is important to have experienced interpreters on site to deal with any issues arising. However, it may be impossible to have as many interpreters to deal with each case separately. In addition, it may not be possible to hire an interpreter for each language. At this point, it could be helpful to make use of interpreting agencies or an interpreter company. Being able to find an interpreter for each situation will save time and lives.

It is also helpful to rest assured that you can access an interpreter for just about any language. Having a Spanish interpreter and an English one is okay but may not be enough. Global interpretation services will come in handy here.

Sign Language Interpreter Signing SICK

Code of Ethics

Interpreting agencies always ensure that their interpreters always abide by the medical code of conducts such as being impartial and keeping patients’ information confidential.

Apart from the above, a medical interpreter should also possess general interpretation skills such as listening and multitasking skills. As a medical practitioner, it is important to know how you can best utilize the services of a medical interpreter to serve your hospital best. Contact Tembua, Inc. at 952-435-8178 or by emailing us at , for the best services in interpretation and translation.