Medical Interpreters: Job Overview
What are some perks of working as a Healthcare and Hospital Interpreter?
As the number of Americans who speak English as a second language climbs, the field of interpreting is only becoming more relevant and profitable. Working professionally as a medical interpreter is rewarding on multiple levels.
Competitive salary: In 2012, the median wage for interpreters was $45,430, or about $22 an hour. Depending on the setting and their expertise, many interpreters receive more. All of your studying and hard work will (literally) pay off.
Positive job outlook : From 2012-2022, employment for translators and interpreters is projected to grow 46%--much faster than most fields-- due to globalization and the influx of immigrants in the US. Guess all those gloomy reports questioning whether technology will replace human interpreters are based more on speculation than evidence (I-Robot isn’t real life, everyone—well, not yet, anyway).
Set your own pace : Feel like sleeping in or working from home in your pajamas? Self-employed interpreters often have flexible schedules and can determine their own hours. Full-time employed interpreters, however, are usually busy during regular business hours—so if you fit the second bill, you might want to wind that alarm clock and save the pjs for your day off.
Helping people: As satisfying as it is to get that paycheck, nothing is more rewarding than knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Medical interpreters get the gratification of working directly with the people they serve and seeing the help they’ve provided first-hand.
Why take our Medical Interpreter Certificate course?
If you are interested in healthcare or anatomy, want to work directly with patients, or refine your bilingualism in a medical context, our Medical Interpreter Training Program is what you’re looking for:
Essential knowledge for interpreting in a professional capacity: Our course introduces you to interpreter roles and skills, interpreter ethics, and medical terminology in both English and your target language.
Hands-on practice:You’ll get the opportunity to receive language coaching and act out role-plays in smaller, interactive groups divided by target language.
Qualified, certified instructors:An experienced instructor who is a clinician teaches anatomy and physiology. The interactive coaching sessions are offered by experienced medical interpreters who are native speakers of the target language.
A Day in the Life
Interpreters do so much more than merely translating a conversation. Medical interpreters are responsible for not only bridging linguistic barriers, but also cultural and societal rifts between the patients and doctors they serve. Without the aid of a qualified medical interpreter, these differences in understanding can have permanent and dangerous consequences.
Linda Haffner, a professional Spanish-language interprter at a California medical center, recounts a typicnote from her experience in an article about medical interpreting:
“My day begins at 8:30 AM. When I arrive at the hospital, three messages are already waiting for me on my beeper. The first is from an anesthesiologist in the Delivery Room who needs me to translate his explanation of the epidural procedure. An 18-year-old Mexican patient is having regular contractions, but she is only 4 cm dilated. The patient is becoming tense and exhausted from the pain, which is interfering with the childbirth process. The nurse has suggested some pain relief medication or an epidural block, but the refuses.
As I clarify the nurse's offer to the patient, I learn the patient's real concern. She thought that she was being offered a raquea. Raquea or raquidea, a term frequently encountered in patients from rural Mexico, refers to the anesthesia procedure commonly known in the United States as a spinal block. Mexican patients associate raquea with a high incidence of serious complications. This patient is afraid that she would have chronic back problems or be paralyzed for life if given the raquea, problems she believes are caused by that procedure. To make it worse, at this moment her husband reminds her that if she does not have pain, she will not be a real mother, a common belief among Mexican patients.
We explain to the patient that the epidural block is not like the raquea, that she would be awake and able to push and actively participate in her baby's birth. Finally, the husband and the patient agree to the epidural, and the baby is born without complications. The problem here is the patient's expectation that medical practices in the United States are the same as in Mexico and her fear (justified or not) about those medical practices, all complicated by basic cultural differences and beliefs. By creating in the patient a better understanding of the epidural procedure, we are able to bridge the language, cultural, and knowledge gaps."
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