Choosing a Career That Makes a Difference: The Medical Interpreter Job

Choosing a Medical Interpreter Job

Medical interpreter JobHave you ever wanted a career in which you’re able to put your skills to use and see an immediate difference being made?

In the United States it is estimated that over 60 million individuals speak a language other than English at home, and that over 25 million speak English less than very well (U.S. Census 2009-2013).

As such, when it comes to providing medical care it isn’t unusual for doctors and nurses to interact with patients who can’t communicate fluently in English.

Not only does this create inefficiencies, it is potentially life threatening if symptoms and illnesses are not discussed properly.

The field of medical interpreting is thankfully growing. Professional interpreters in medical environments provide vital, and sometimes lifesaving work by bridging the communication gap between medical staff and patients.

If you’ve ever considered a medical interpreter career, but weren’t sure if it was the right choice, check out our top five reasons to become a professional medical interpreter!

The Top 5 Reasons to Choose a Medical Interpreter Job


  1. You’re language abilities help someone in a serious time of need.

Medical interpreter in a HospitalIf you’ve ever needed to go to the hospital or doctor’s office for an emergency you know how stressful it is. Now imagine not being able to understand or speak the same language as the doctors.

For limited English proficient (LEP) individuals this is unfortunately a reality. Though it is technically required under the Civil Rights Act for any federally funded healthcare institution to provide language assistance, many still don’t provide adequate services.

Often time’s family members still end up interpreting and translating for the patient, which can result in treatment errors and emotional trauma.

As a professional in a medical interpreter career, you will immediately make a difference in the lives of LEP patients – not only because you will be able to provide an accurate relay of information between medical staff and the patient, but also because it will be a huge comfort for the patient when they realize they will be able to explain and potentially fix their health problems in their native language.

  1. You help to ensure LEP individuals receive the correct treatments.

The dangers of not having adequate language resources for LEP individuals can range from an individual not receiving treatment for their illness to death. This entire spectrum carries with it liabilities for both individuals and hospitals.

One of the main medical interpreter duties is to ensure that these mistakes don’t happen, and that lives aren’t worsened or lost due to language barriers.

You’re ability to speak both English and the patient’s language, as well as understand the medical side of the conversation, allows you to make sure the doctor is hearing the right symptoms from the patient and that the patient knows how to follow the ultimate treatment plan.

All in all this results in more individuals getting access to the proper healthcare so they can recover.

  1. You build new bridges and connections in your brain through the continued use of multiple languages.

Hospital interpreterOne of the amazing things about speaking multiple languages is the “exercise” it gives your brain. Research has shown that multilingual individuals think differently depending on the language, as each will give the user a different way to describe the world and thus a different perception.

There has also been research showing benefits in the areas of health for multilingual individuals including decreasing the onset of dementia, as well as increased abilities in focus, concentration, and problem solving.

  1. You gain knowledge in medicine and healthcare which can benefit you personally.

As a medical interpreter you are expected to study and understand a wide range of medical concepts – from basic anatomy to complicated and technical procedures. Not only does this help you accurately communicate and explain information to patients and doctors, it also helps you in your day to day life.

With a greater medical understanding, you can approach your personal health with more knowledge.

  1. You can set your own schedule, and it is never monotonous work.

For those who can’t see themselves sitting behind a desk, performing the same work day after day, a medical interpreter career may be perfect.

For one thing, many medical interpreters who work freelance are able to pick and choose assignments – effectively creating their own work schedule. This flexibility allows you to pursue other activities that you may not otherwise have time for.

For another thing, though you will find yourself in doctor’s office often, no two medical interpreter jobs will ever be exactly the same. This allows you to stay on your toes and be continuously learning throughout your career.

Beginning a Medical Interpreter Career

Medical Interpreter CareerIf these reasons appeal to you, the next step on the medical interpreter career path is to begin your medical interpreter training.

In order to begin working as a freelance interpreter or for a hospital directly, you will need to build up a background in both the medical field and the skills of interpreting.

Language Connections offers a 7 week, Fundamentals of Medical Interpreter Training Program. In this course students are taught the necessary skills of consecutive interpretation as well as medical concepts and terminology in both English and their target languages.

By the end of the course, students will have a clear understanding of the following:

  • Medical interpreter roles and skills
  • The ethics of interpreting
  • Anatomy and physiology, pathology, and biomedicine
  • Medical and healthcare vocabulary in both languages

Our courses are all taught by working medical interpreters, and meet twice a week to allow students ample time for practice and discussion with coaches and classmates.

Interested in beginning a rewarding medical interpreter career? Register for the Fundamentals of Medical Interpreter Training today!

Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our interpreter training programs: Medical Interpreter Training, Legal Interpreter Training or Community & Business Interpreter Training.

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