7 topics to discuss in an interpreting pre-session that you will learn in Medical Interpreter Training

The purpose of an interpreting pre-session is to help interpreters address any problematic situations. A pre-session does not guarantee that everything will go perfectly. By having a pre-session, you present yourself as a professional interpreter and let the parties know how to make the best use of your skills in order to successfully achieve their communication goals.

Here are 7 potential topics you will learn in Medical Interpreter Training that should be discussed during a pre-session to assist the medical interpreter in his/her interpretation:

  • Interpretation Flow: The patient and the medical interpreter must decide whether they are going to follow a simultaneous or a consecutive interpretation. The main difference between those two modes is timing.  During simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter conveys the provider’s message to the patient immediately. During consecutive interpreting, the interpreter translates groups of sentences to the provider, which means that the patient needs to pause every two or three sentences and give some time to the interpreter. For instance, when the professional is a Chinese interpreter certification holder working in an English-speaking setting, more time must to be given to the interpreter, as Chinese is more verbose than English.
  • Confidentiality: The medical interpreter must inform the patient that everything that he/she is going to translate will remain private. Anyone who had a medical interpreter certificate training must abide by this rule.
  • Interruption: The interpreter will explain to the patient that in case she/he doesn’t understand or hear what was expressed, he/she may interpose to ask for a clarification or a repetition.
  • Communicate with the provider: The patient must be notified that he/she must speak directly to the doctor. If a potential interpreter attends medical interpreter classes, he/she will be well-versed in this pre-session aspect.
  • Excess Information: Because the interpreter is obligated to translate everything that is said, the patient needs to know that if he/she doesn’t desire something to be interpreted; she/he shouldn’t mention it at all.
  • Overcome any cultural barriers that may arise: Interpreters build bridges between cultures. Therefore, before the appointment any cultural barriers must be broken down. For example, an interpreter with a Russian medical interpreter certificate in the United States, must be informed about the cultural differences between the two countries.
  • Usage of medical terms: Even if the doctor’s words are conveyed correctly, that doesn’t guarantee that the patient will comprehend them.  Medical terminology is complicated. Hence, the interpreter should ask the doctor for clarification if the patient doesn’t understand the medical terminology.

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Yana Fisher

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