The Role of Interpreters in the Healthcare Environment
By: Shahzad Bashir
An interpreter usually performs the duty of bridging the communication gap between two persons who can not understand each other because they use different languages. He is not concerned with the subject and content of the speech; however, he is responsible for conveying spoken content to another person accurately and precisely. In this article, we are going to discuss the role of interpreters in the healthcare environment.
An interpreter is also assumed to be a person who is proficient in two or more languages. Hence, it is significant that the interpreter understands languages well and the setting of interpreting services. This is imperative in providing interpreting services.
Role of an Interpreter
An interpreter plays a vital and significant role in the healthcare industry. An accident overseas can land the already injured person in trouble without the services of an interpreter. Misunderstandings can occur. Depending on the accident’s seriousness, healthcare professionals have to understand the condition of the patient well. They need to know the medical history of that person for his effectiveness and to inject him with different medications and doses.
The only scenario possible is to hire an interpreter who understands the patient’s language as well as healthcare professionals. He can bridge the gap and help patients get quick and appropriate treatment. This is one example of how interpreter is vital for the healthcare industry and how they can play their role in serving humanity.
Common Languages Among Interpreters
Interpreters mostly know and are well aware of common languages that are in demand more often. These are languages that are concerned with healthcare and are required to cater to healthcare needs and facilities when required. Agencies can provide their services right away when contacted, and they can also send their interpreters if needed. There are scenarios where interpreters in a hospital or clinic facilitate patients fully with their interactive sessions with interpreters. This is how they bridge the gap between healthcare and provider.
In case the language is not available or interpreters are not proficient enough in that language, the agency further contacts their associates and arranges interpreters from overseas. Arranged interpreters further provide their services through telephone and or video calls. The management takes care of webcams and makes other arrangements to get through the process. There is no official number or list of languages available by interpreter services. This works as per demand and popularity.
Interpreter Duties in a Healthcare Environment
The interpreter literally saves lives in healthcare industries. However, these are the main tasks that they perform majorly.
- Informing patients about their medical condition, diagnosis by Doctor
- Discussion about the patient’s needs and requirements with the patient and his relatives
- Inquiring about the patient’s previous medical history, surgeries, and allergies
- Explaining treatments, their requirements, and other requirements
- Describing scenarios about how to use drugs and their dosages
Interpreters and their roles are quite important for treatments and medical problems abroad. Without the services of an interpreter, misunderstandings take place and lead to the worst scenarios.
These include the following points:
- Lack of information about customer’s allergies and healthcare professionals suggest some medicine that can trigger the allergy and their reactions
- Misunderstandings for customers about the diagnosis as provided by doctors and physicians
- Precautions that a patient has to take and follow when sent home after getting treatment.
- Follow-up treatment
- Frequency and dosages for drugs that are prescribed
It takes hardly any time to realize how important an interpreter and their services are. Learning and acquiring a new language takes time and not everyone is capable of learning a new language instantly. People who visit foreign lands are not ready to communicate in different languages when they are visiting the country for holiday or business purposes. Things are quite arranged already. So, people do not bother to learn one whole language for one quick trip and visit.
An interpreter is supposed to bridge the language gap so that people in one healthcare setting can communicate and fulfill their needs that are stuck due to language problems. They are there to provide their services to patients so that they can understand well their health issues, problems, and diagnoses and can also work on communicating their concerns and reservations to healthcare professionals. Besides that, healthcare professionals in return can expand things and situations better. They can further share treatment plans, projected recovery times, and everything that concerns patients.
It is interesting to note that the interpreter doesn’t share his opinion, but he rather has to simply put forward his services of interpretation of words in front of patients and other parties. The important of all is to ensure that they interpret content in the most accurate and effective manner between healthcare professionals and patients. It is also important to make sure that whatever language they are speaking to communicate, the interpreter is really proficient.
Working Conditions of Interpreters
Healthcare interpreters work in a number of healthcare environment including hospitals, private offices, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Few interpreters focus on one department only and always offer services to that particular department. However, there are many who keep shuffling their duties between departments whenever needed.
The timings of healthcare interpreters could be different and late at times. A few of them could be required in evening shifts and on weekends. Hospitals often need them in weird times, call them in the wee hours as well. It is quite common for interpreters to work as much as needed regardless of timings and a particular number of hours.
Moreover, they not only have to cater to the stress of working in primary and medical specialized fields, but interpreters also have to cope with unique issues that are related to working in mental health facilities, abuse clinics, domestic violence, forensic services, and similar type of healthcare problems and issues. This could be challenging mentally and emotionally. However, being part of the job, they have to hold themselves tough during these times.
The role of an interpreter is as important as medicine in the healthcare industry. A patient can only get the right and effective treatment if his health issues and medical history is conveyed to healthcare professionals well. Also, healthcare professionals can only diagnose and treat the patient well once they know everything about their patient. Therefore, such scenarios make the role of interpreters in the healthcare environment quite vital and significant.