Why Medical Interpreter Education is Key to Professionalization – Essay 3

By Helena Paneyko

The title of this essay entails the dissection of each of its parts, so we can better understand the conclusions What is an interpreter? A interpreter is not only a person who is bilingual, but one who can convert the meaning of what it has said in a source language into a target language, with accuracy and as close as transmitting the intentions of the speaker wants to convey. To be able to do that, an interpreter needs to listen and understand what it has been said, and turn it into the other language as faithfully as possible. What is a medical interpreter? A medical interpreter is not only a skilled interpreter accordingly to the above explanation, but one who, in addition, is able to understand the medical lingo spoken by medical professionals and to communicate it to a patient and/or his/her authorized relatives (and vice versa), reflecting the same register as the one that has been spoken. This also implies a high level of responsibility where even the life of a human being could be at risk. Why education for medical interpreters? Education is basic for anything implying more than just an instinct and is what makes a big difference between a trade, and a profession which requires integrity, knowledge, art and common sense. In addition to the understanding of the importance of our role as interpreters which is to be the link between two (or more) people that are not able to communicate, it is important to follow the rules and regulations of the field, to comply with the professional ethics and the currently advances in both, the medical field and the interpreter’s field. What is professionalization? We, as interpreters, deal with professionals who require a high level of performance from us. We also deal with people of different cultures, religions and believe. Accordingly to a definition of professionalism, it is a social process that involves acceptable qualifications as well as to have a professional body who can oversee the conduct of the members of the profession. Do we need to evolve, as medical interpreters, to the point of professionalism? The answer is definitively yes. We are professionals, dealing with professionals with the responsibilities, rights and duties of professionals. Professionals, then, come hand in hand with education. We need to educate and to better ourselves. We need to keep updating our knowledge so we can be respected and valued. We need to have higher standards in order to provide a more qualified service. We need to believe that our contribution goes further than the simple fact of conveying words into another language. Our mission is praiseworthy, and the moment is now.

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