8 Tips on Managing Stress for Medical Interpreters
Dealing with stress in one’s job is a real problem for many workers on a daily basis. Medical interpreters are no different.
Remembering complicated medical terminology in two languages, understanding medical concepts and knowing how to explain them to the patient in one language, not missing important words or ideas when explaining patient’s answers to doctors (less vital, health-impacting information is lost), and keeping calm when patients or doctors give distressing news are just some of the daily stressors medical interpreters face.
Then there is the environment – medical interpreters are just as commonly needed in health clinics as they are emergency rooms where stress levels are at their maximum. Needless to say, letting the stress get to you as a medical interpreter can severely impact your job performance plus your physical and mental health - and someone else’s for that matter.
So what can you do to overcome job related stress, and continue performing at your absolute best?
We’ve got some tips for interpreters – which can be applied to medical interpreters and those practicing in other settings – to help you keep your stress under control.
8 Tips for Interpreters on Stress Management
As mentioned before, there are a variety of reasons you may feel stress as a medical interpreter. We’ve focused two of the big ones, and given you some ways to keep yourself motivated and healthy when the going gets tough.
Interpreting in first person can sometimes cause you to feel like you are experiencing another’s pain or suffering.
- Ground yourself, remind yourself of who you are and why you do what you do while remembering the positive experiences you’ve had interpreting.
- During breaks practice meditation techniques such as mindfulness that focus on clearing your mind and breathing. At home, keep a journal to write down painful experiences or frustrations.
- Exercise and make sure you eat healthy, focus on your own wellbeing outside of work by spending time with family and friends, or doing something you love.
- Speak with other medical interpreters, or join a community of those in the same profession who understand the work environment.
Sometimes you forget words, don’t understand concepts, misinterpret, and deal with situations you can’t control.
- Mistakes happen, and they will happen when you interpret - correct yourself if you realize you’ve made a mistake and move on.
- Interpret with a notebook in the event that your memory starts to become affected by a situation, or you’re afraid you might forget something important – jot down anything beforehand that you might think helpful in the situation.
- Regularly attend training sessions and advanced medical interpreting courses to expand your knowledge of terminology and concepts.
- In the instances where, despite everything you and the medical workers have done, something goes wrong, remember that you did everything you could and there are still others who need your help.
Maintaining a Good Routine, and Preparing for the Future
Managing your stress as a medical interpreter is similar to managing your stress in many other positions when it comes down to it. You need to identify what causes you the most stress, how you experience it, and what has worked in the past to relieve it.
Implementing a routine based on what you identify can serve to keep your stress levels under control, and prevent any long-term consequences of high stress.
One of the main tips for interpreters that should be focused on is routinely attending medical related discussions, as well as interpreting workshops and advanced training classes. Continuing your education is important for not only improving your interpreting work in the long-run, but also allowing you to feel more confident going into assignments which can reduce performance anxiety.
Language Connections offers both a beginner level and an Advanced Medical Interpreter Training Course to help aspiring and practicing interpreters gain the skill they need to interpret successfully. Both courses are 7 weeks and are taught by professional medical interpreters.
Managing your stress now and preparing for your future are essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a medical interpreter. There are times when you will feel high levels of stress – but with dedication and practice, it doesn’t have to hinder you.
Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional medical interpreter. Register now for our upcoming Medical Interpreter Training Program on our website:
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