Cover Letter For Medical Interpreter

With some states now requiring hospitals to provide trained medical interpreters for non-English-speaking patients, the likelihood that clinicians will partner with professional interpreters is rising. Experienced medical interpreters offer tips on how clinicians and interpreters can work together for the benefit of their patients.

Recognize the Value of Trained Interpreters

Using trained medical interpreters results in more accurate diagnoses and better patient compliance, says Edgardo Garcia, translation services director for Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Trained interpreters are consistently better at facilitating communication between non-English-speaking patients and providers than patients’ relatives and children, who are often unreliable in interpreting complex or sensitive medical information, notes Sue Prieto, coordinator of interpreter services at Mount Auburn Hospital. Medical interpreters can also sometimes bridge patient-provider cultural gaps. “We don’t have to wear white coats, but a good, trained medical interpreter can be one of your best team members,” Prieto says.

Call Them Early

The earlier a medical interpreter is involved in a non-English-speaking patient’s care, the better. Ideally, a patient needing an interpreter will be identified when he registers, so an interpreter will be scheduled for all his appointments, Garcia says. If that doesn’t happen, however, clinicians should still call an interpreter as soon as they realize the need. It’s worth waiting for the interpreter to arrive, since the encounter will probably go more smoothly and quickly with an interpreter present, Prieto says. Many hospitals use video or telephone interpreters, so if a live interpreter can’t get to an appointment quickly, start with a remote interpreter and then switch to a live interpreter, Garcia recommends.

Take Time to Prepare

It’s useful for the interpreter and clinician to have a short preconference before seeing a patient to clarify the goals of the appointment and what will occur, Prieto suggests. A preconference could also help bridge cultural gaps. Prieto recounts how a Hindi medical interpreter was on duty for a basic physical exam of a 70-year-old Indian woman. The doctor was taking the woman’s history, asking her questions about the number of sexual partners she’d had. “If the doctor would have had a minute to discuss it with the interpreter before walking into the room, the interpreter could have told the doctor that females of this culture in this age group will be very hesitant to answer such questions,” Prieto says. If the doctor were receptive to the interpreter’s insights, the interpreter could have suggested ways in which to obtain the information in a culturally sensitive manner, Prieto says.

Speak Directly to the Patient

Even though an interpreter is in the room, on screen or linked via audio, clinicians should speak directly to the patient, not the interpreter. “The patient and provider have to understand that they are talking to each other,” Garcia says. “They should be looking at each other like they’re speaking the same language.” A trained medical interpreter will speak as the doctor and patient. “I always use the first person,” says Arthur Kaplan, a Russian-language medical interpreter for Language Access Network, an audio and video interpretation company. “If the doctor says, ‘How are you doing? Why are you here?’ I act as the doctor. I never say ‘the doctor says.’ Then I respond as the patient does, with ‘I have a pain in my heart’ or whatever words the patient uses.”

Use Short, Simple Sentences

Speaking in short sentences allows for complete and accurate interpretation, Garcia says. “Even though an interpreter is trained to develop a good memory, we cannot keep up with everything when a provider keeps on talking,” he says. The preferred method for medical interpretation is consecutive rather than simultaneous interpretation, which can be distracting, Garcia notes. Providers should also avoid using complicated medical terminology. Although trained medical interpreters can interpret that information, technical jargon can be confusing. “Interpreters will sometimes stop and say, ‘The patient looks confused. Can we say it this way instead?’” Prieto says. And a provider shouldn’t be surprised if an interpreter asks him to slow down or repeat critical information, such as medication names and doses, Kaplan adds.

Choose Your Interpreter Carefully

Providers in states that don’t require trained medical interpreters in hospitals should never use minors as interpreters, Prieto cautions. And if bilingual hospital staff will be interpreting, they should be trained just like other medical interpreters. “Bilingual ability doesn’t equal trained medical interpretation,” Prieto says.   

Learn more about healthcare careers.

Northside HospitalAtlanta, GASpanish Medical Interpreter09/2014 to Current
  • Verbal interpretation for medical providers
  • Facilitate communication in a hospital setting
  • Translate medical forms/instructions
  • Telephone Interpreting
  • Interpreter coordination and scheduling.
BrasilTrancoso, BahiaLanguage Learning Year11/2013 to 07/2014
  • Took a year off of work to travel throughout Brasil to learn Portuguese.
Spectrum Health Children's HospitalGrand Rapids, MISpanish Medical Interpreter04/2010 to 11/2013
  • Verbal interpretation for medical providers
  • Facilitate communication in a hospital setting
  • Travel to various clients across the state
  • Translate medical forms/instructions
  • Video and Telephone Interpreting
  • Interpreter coordination and scheduling.
Saint Mary's HealthcareGrand Rapids, MISpanish Medical Interpreter05/2007 to 11/2013
  • Verbal interpretation for medical providers
  • Facilitate communication in a hospital setting
  • Translate medical forms/instructions
  • Interpreter coordination and scheduling.
Harvest Health FoodsGrand Rapids, MISales Clerk02/2000 to 01/2007
  • Floor stocking of merchandise with buyer satisfaction and revenue goals.
  • Vitamin line representative and buyer.
  • Generated sales and inventory reports in Excel with data from a variety of sources, maintaining a 100% accuracy rate. Computed accurate sales prices for purchase transactions.
  • Worked as a team member performing cashier duties, product assistance and cleaning.
High School Diploma1997Village Christian High School, Sun Valley, CA
Bachelor of Arts:Education2001Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI, USA
To obtain a position with The Ritz-Carlton where I may utilize my skills in customer service; excellent communication skills, medical knowledge and language skills to better serve our community and our customers.
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Seasoned in conflict resolution
  • Sharp problem solver
  • Love and respect for different cultures
  • Courteous demeanor
  • Active listening skills
  • Energetic work attitude
  • Punctuality
  • Chosen to be the Spanish Medical Interpreter for Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
  • Developed and piloted a new position for Northside Hospital, based on my work ethic and skillset.
  • Received recognition for achieving "exceeds expectations" on my 2015 review at Northside Hospital, placing me top 5% in the hospital.
  • Fluent in English and Spanish
  • Speak and Read Brazilian Portuguese
  • Professional and friendly
  • Strong critical thinking skills
  • VOLUNTEER Flying Kick Soccer Academy
  • Assistant Manager; assisted with trainings and travel tournaments
  • Ran and developed camps and trainings

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