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Requirements Of Medical Interpreters

Healthcare Annie Pagano on Mar 24, 2016 2:00:00 PM

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While medical or healthcare interpreting is a fast-growing segment of our industry, formal educational programs are rare. So what do you as a health care interpreter need to know?

The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC ) lists six primary components that are basic requirements for healthcare interpreters:

  • Language skills

  • Knowledge of the medical Code of Ethics

  • Sensitivity to cultural issues

  • Mastery of healthcare terminology

  • Integrated interpreting skills

  • Ability to create oral translations, or, where appropriate, brief written translations

This catalogue of skills raises a few interesting points about language interpreting in general.

First, the term “language skills” represents both mastery of the target language and a general proficiency for all verbal communications. Mastery of healthcare terminology is more than the  translation of words. As an interpreter you must have the ability to define these terms in their original language ( the source language) before being able to interpret fluently and accurately in your target language.

“Be prepared” is a good mantra for interpreters. Medical interpreters sometimes must conduct an oral interpretation. You may find yourself performing any manner of translations–translating a prescription for a patient, a doctor’s health recommendations, or reading medical signs or notices aloud. To prepare, try to think of all the possible translation and interpretation needs a patient or healthcare professional may have.

However, you should not be expected to produce lengthy written translations for medical studies or articles.  That’s another specialty.

While healthcare facilities need to find a reliable translation company with certified or registered interpreters to ensure accuracy and understanding of all sides of a conversation, they also have the option to train their own bilingual staff members on becoming interpreters. Effective medical interpretation helps build bridges to better healthcare. Download our guide below to learn more about how you can build your own internal capacity to meet the growing need of non-English speaking populations.

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