Are medical interpreters equipped to become community interpreters?

As American society becomes increasingly multicultural, the number of languages spoken in the country also increases. Diversifying communities increase the need for bridging language gaps, thus increasing the demand for community and medical interpreting. While medical interpreting is obviously focused on the medical industry, community interpreting is less rigid, offering more versatility due to its all-encompassing nature. Read on to learn what qualities medical interpreters need to work as community interpreters.

3 Aspects That Make Community Interpreting an Accessible Career Choice

1. Career Versatility

Community interpreting is a highly versatile area of study and practice. Certified community interpreters can branch out into public services, such as community centers, law enforcement and similar safety agencies, non-profit agencies, and even private/public agencies caring for the underprivileged. Medical interpreters, while trained in specialized terminology, receive the same basic interpreter training from their medical interpreter classes as community interpreters do. This makes it easier for them to obtain a community interpreting certificate.

2. Empowering LEP Populations

Interpreters holding either a community or medical interpreting certificate share a common ground when it comes to assisting minority communities. Immigrants, refugees or citizens with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) have various social/public service needs which require communicating in English for healthcare purposes. In certain situations where the language gap may be severe, LEP people can face significant stress or fear. A medical interpreter is trained to make such situations easier by providing accurate interpretation. Furthermore, both community and medical interpreters are equipped to ensure that their client doesn’t fail to communicate any crucial details that otherwise could have been omitted under emotional duress in the absence of a mediating figure such as a community interpreter.

3. High Level of Cultural Understanding

Medical interpreters who have also completed community interpreting courses, such as Language Connections’ Community Interpreting Certificate Course, are at an advantage to be culturally sensitive and have comprehensive cultural knowledge (depending on the language/dialect they specialize in). This directly correlates to a better quality of interpretation, because understanding key aspects of different cultures can help community interpreters connect better with immigrant clients, or clients hailing from non-American cultural backgrounds. Refugee camps, border areas and humanitarian aid initiatives in different parts of the world are good examples where the medical background of medical interpreters complements the community-based services of a community interpreter.

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Yana Fisher

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