6 Aug


Recently I interpreted at the Cleveland Clinic for a transplant candidate. An unexpected learning experience surfaced. My colleague Alisa Warshay also had the same type of appointment that day, but her patient didn’t appear. She asked to sit in on a session with my patient and the kind nurse gladly agreed. Alisa reinvigorated my efforts to both learn and share how to prepare for an assignment with a social worker, dietician, social worker and financial counselor. She also provided me feedback on what she heard. Those comments led to today’s blog post.



Alisa completed extensive research on the web before setting foot in the Clinic. A search resulted in What Every Patient Needs to Know. Now she better understood the entire process from preparation to life afterward.  Already she became familiar with donations, insurance terminology and how to promote organ and tissue donation.


After the session Alisa approached the nurse and asked if she might have copies of the materials distributed in Spanish. Nice move. She (and I) walked off with another copy of What Every Patient Needs to Know, How to Work with Your Transplant Team/Cómo colaborar con su equipo de trasplantes, A Guide to Your Health Care after Liver Transplantation/Una guía para el cuidado de su salud después del trasplante de higado plus over fifteen pages nutrition information sheets. A treasure trove for any interpreter.


During the session Alisa took copious notes. Afterward she listed new terms she learned and pointed out my errors. Priceless. My mistake is that I repeat or add information in hopes the message will get across to the patient. This falls short of the accuracy required to keep within the role of the interpreter. Since then I’ve listened even more carefully to myself to watch for the urge to “inflate” the dialogue. I also stood next to a woman who clearly knows how to act as a professional. She asked for what she needed diplomatically, prepared beforehand and shared her knowledge with me afterward. That’s how to work on a team.

Good words to you.

How to Work with Your Transplant Team/Cómo colobarar con su equipo de trasplantes U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

What Every Patient Needs to Know/Lo Que Todo Paciente Necesita Saber

Cleveland Clinic Transplant Center

A Guide to Your Health Care after Liver Transplantation (SP<>EN)

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