Why Being A Healthcare Interpreter is a Rewarding Career


Health care interpreters facilitate communication between patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) and their physicians, nurses, lab technicians and other healthcare providers. Because of the growing number of LEP patients, the need for healthcare interpreters has grown swiftly in the last decade, so there is good career potential in this profession.

When a patient has limited ability to speak English, it is nearly impossible for even the most skilled clinician to provide high-quality healthcare services without accurate interpreting performed by a trained, qualified interpreter who is familiar with medical terminology. If family members, friends or staff who are not trained as healthcare interpreters try to interpret in healthcare settings, errors in understanding and/or communication can occur, posing grave risks to the patient and immense liability to the healthcare provider or institution.

Health Care Interpreter in a HospitalMost full-time healthcare interpreters are responsible for providing face-to-face medical interpreting between patients and providers. However, interpreters may also be asked to work with other individuals, such as family members or a patient representative, and they may provide cultural information to facilitate support for a treatment plan.

Healthcare interpreters often render sight translation of basic health care documents by orally translating the document into the patient’s language. Healthcare interpreters may also interpret over the phone or through video. Healthcare interpreters often have to educate other members of the healthcare team regarding the duties, requirements and ethical standards involved in healthcare interpreting.

Throughout the United States, interpreters are becoming key and highly valued members of the healthcare team. Their responsibilities have evolved greatly in the last decade and are continuing to change to meet needs.


Speak a foreign language? Put it to work! Become a professional interpreter with our Medical Interpreter Certificate Training Program.

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Yana Fisher

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