Every year, the portion of the population in the U.S. that has a primary language other than English is increasing. As this trend continues, so does the rise in demand for capable medical interpreters in hospitals and health care clinics. Medical interpreters play a vital role in the health care industry. Their job is to bridge the language gap between patients and doctors in order to make the doctors’ job easier. Hiring a medical interpreter means that hospitals and physicians decrease the risk of malpractice caused by confusion and mis-communication. It also means that hospitals will be more likely to attract a larger number of international patients.

Hiring a Medical Interpreter

When hiring a medical interpreter for your hospital, be aware that many great medical interpreters will not have a college degree. The most important qualification is that they be proficient in both languages, meaning they can speak and write them fluently, and that they can clearly translate and convey complex ideas from one language to the other. This ability usually comes with practice and can be qualified only during the interview process.

A good medical interpreter is not just a translator. He or she should have a thorough knowledge of medical terminology and be able to interpret specialized medical language communicate it properly in both languages. He or she must also know how to speak with patients about sensitive and/or delicate personal information concerning their health. Some schools offer medical interpreter certifications, which are not necessary, but some hospitals like to see them. Interpreter agencies are also becoming more popular, as they save employees the screening process.

What an Interpreter Does for You

The most important thing to look for in an interpreter remains that they be capable of thinking quickly on their feet. An interpreter must take on unexpected information and convey it quickly, so that patient-doctor conversations feel natural and clear. When no direct translation is possible, creativity and mastery of both languages is needed to convey the essence of the patient’s or doctor’s meaning.

Interpreters are present in exam rooms and during any procedures that require patient feedback. They will ask about patient history and relay often complicated medical jargon in an understandable fashion. Minor administrative duties might also be delegated to them if relevant.

The need of a medical translator is a great resource when you need to communicate any patient’s aliments to the physician or nurses, especially in a medical emergency.

About the Author

Ryan Frank is a 23 year writer and blogger living in San Diego, CA

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