DO I SIT QUIETLY OR INTERPRET?
A newcomer to medical interpreting posed this question recently. What would you advise her as to when to interpret and when not at a doctor’s appointment?
“I was a little unsure if I was supposed to interpret what the social worker was saying when he was speaking with the niece–she speaks English–and they were discussing transportation options–like if maybe she could give her uncle a ride to where he needed to go.
Also, a few times the social worker spoke with the nurse. Perhaps you could clue me in on what to do in that situation. Am I everyone’s voice no matter who they are speaking to or am I the voice of the provider(s) when speaking with the patient?”
I suggested the next time to sit beside the patient and quietly interpret into his ear. He has a right to be on the same playing field as the others in the room.
What would you suggest to this interpreter? Thanks for the feedback.