What is a qualified medical interpreter?

Professional medical interpreters are not only measured by the depth of their medical knowledge, or how much they are able to interpret—each of these can be developed over time with further education.

A good interpreter knows how to moderate the flow of information during the interpretation process. Additionally, a reliable medical interpreter understands how it feels to be a patient in an environment that is culturally and linguistically foreign and takes measures to make the patient feel at ease during the medical interpretation process.

Here are some of the techniques that great medical interpreters use to facilitate successful communication between patient and physician:

What qualities should an interpreter have?

Asking the patient whether or not he understands what the doctor has just said based on the interpretation. Even as the interpreter and patient speak the same language, the complexity of medical terminology can still make it difficult for a patient to understand what is being said. Medical interpreters use the method of checking with the client as she interprets, to make sure they are following what the doctor is saying. As soon as doubt is expressed by the patient, Liliana asks the doctor to repeat or explain further.


Adapt their “speech register”. A good medical interpreter also respects the fact that each patient has varying levels of education. A highly experienced medical interpreter knows how to adapt their own “speech register” so as to ensure the patient understands what they are saying. In Liliana’s experience, Over half of the Latino patient’s she’s worked with did not receive the education necessary to understand medical language, which requires her to adjust her speech register by using simpler sentences, slowing down her speech, and more.


Create a calm and neutral environment that’s conducive to effective communication. In traumatic medical settings, emotions and feelings of urgency are running rampant in ways that can impact communication. No matter how devastating the situation, a skilled medical interpreter knows to force their emotions aside and deliver difficult news to keep the channel of clear communication going.


Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional medical interpreter. Register now for one of our upcoming Medical Interpreter Training Program

See the course schedule here:  Schedule >>>
Contact us for more information:
Phone: (617) 277-1990

author avatar
Yana Fisher

Comments are closed.