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The Interpreter and the Sandwich, or: Why Feedback Is Not About Your Feelings

Feedback forms from my work in this year’s co>lab interpreting intensive in Mexico City. These comments from colleagues are like nuggets of gold!

There’s a funny thing about feedback and interpreters. We all claim that when it comes to feedback: Tell it to us like it is! Don’t mince words! I can take it! Bring it on! As if feedback is this awful thing we must brace ourselves for.

I’ve (very generally) seen feedback divided into two main camps: We should be gentle in our feedback so that we protect the interpreter’s self esteem. Or, we should just tell it to them straight because this is the real world and clients aren’t going to handle them with such care. But there’s another approach that is considerate, yet straightforward: We should base our feedback on goals that are established by the interpreter so that it is useful. Continue reading “The Interpreter and the Sandwich, or: Why Feedback Is Not About Your Feelings”

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The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, the Job Task Analysis, and You!

certification for healthcare interpretersWe all know the benefits of certification.  Some of us have already passed our exams, or are preparing for them.  But did you ever wonder where those exams come from?  How do they know what to include in the exams?  The certifying body (in this case, CCHI) starts by doing what’s called a Job Task Analysis (JTA) of healthcare interpreters all over the US.  Through surveys, the JTA identifies the current knowledge, skills and abilities needed to competently perform as a healthcare interpreter. At the end of the survey, the data is analyzed and published in a report that’s available to the public.  The CCHI’s first JTA was in 2010 and led to the development of its certification exam.  You can see the 2010 report here. Continue reading “The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, the Job Task Analysis, and You!”

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Note taking for Healthcare Interpreters

notepad-1240975-640x480I’ve taught note taking for healthcare interpreters to many people, and over the years I’ve developed my own system that for me is quite effective.  With note taking, the provider or patient can speak for longer without the interpreter interrupting to interpret.  You can be more accurate with the added memory support.  With note taking, you can feel more confident taking the consec portion of your oral exams for national certification.  There’s one trick though: You have to know how to take notes.

Here are some things to get you started, based on my experience as an interpreter and an interpreter trainer. Continue reading “Note taking for Healthcare Interpreters”

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Feedback: Going Beyond “That Was Great”

Giving and receiving feedback is great when you know how!
Giving and receiving feedback is great when you know how!

Interpreting practice and feedback are important.  One of my grad school professors wrote an article about peer assessment that inspired me to write about my own experience.  Practice with a partner or in groups involves giving feedback to others, and in turn accepting others’ feedback.  It requires a lot of work from everyone involved.  It’s not just a matter of half-listening and then telling your practice partner, “Yeah, that was great.”

In 2012, I practiced alone and with a partner to prep for my state court exams.  In 2015, I prepped the staff interpreters at my hospital Language Services department for their national certification exams. That same year, I prepped for my transition exams to be admitted to the second year of my graduate program, and then I passed my exit exams and graduated. Here’s what I’ve learned about feedback in interpreting practice, and how to make the best use of your time.

Continue reading “Feedback: Going Beyond “That Was Great””

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New Year’s Resolutions for Healthcare Interpreters

happy new year!Just starting out?  In a rut?  Wondering how to up your game as a healthcare interpreter in 2016?  Here are some ideas to get you started!

Learn about certifying bodies for healthcare interpreters:  In the US, you might be in a state that offers state-level certification.  For most of us though, the only certification available is on a national level.  Check out the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and the National Board for Certified Medical Interpreters.  These are the only two national certifying bodies in the US.  The National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare (NCIHC) and the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) are professional organizations, NOT certifying bodies.  It’s important to understand the difference, especially if you’ve been certified.  If who does what is a bit murky to you, check out this short post that will clarify it. Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions for Healthcare Interpreters”

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Certifying Bodies and Professional Organizations for Healthcare Interpreters

The NCIHC doesn't certify interpreters, but they make cool interpreter swag, like this!
The NCIHC is a professional organization, not a certifying body, and they advocate for equal access to healthcare for people of all languages.

Certifying bodies and professional organizations!  It’s not always clear who does what, so here’s a quick run-down of national certifying bodies and professional organizations:

National Board for Certified Medical Interpreters: One of two national certifying bodies that offers certification to interpreters who qualify.  When you have this certification, you have to maintain it by attending educational events that are approved for Continuing Education (CEs). Accepts CEs from IMIA. Continue reading “Certifying Bodies and Professional Organizations for Healthcare Interpreters”

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Oral Exam Prep for Interpreters

get out your red pens, it's test prep time!
Get out your red pens, it’s test prep time!

Last month the Language Services crew at the academic health center where I work started prep for CCHI’s oral exam, which they’re planning to take at the end of July.  We started by prepping for the biggest part of the test, consecutive interpreting.  We’ve also done some prep with simultaneous interpreting.  I’m sharing here how we’re getting ready!  This is the method I learned when prepping for my state court oral exam, and then we used this same method in some of my grad school courses. Here’s what you’ll need:

Texts: Dialogues (for consecutive) or monologues (for simultaneous), and audio recordings of the same dialogues (or monologues).

Recording device: You can download one free on your smartphone, or use a digital recorder. You can try www.vocaroo.com on your browser, or download Audacity to your computer. Continue reading “Oral Exam Prep for Interpreters”

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Testing, Testing…

good luck to all the test takers out there!
good luck to all the test takers out there!

The interpreters in my department are scheduled to take their written exam for national certification next week, and over the last several weeks I’ve been holding test prep sessions for them.  (You can see our original prep plan here.) By far, what they liked the most (besides the stickers and candy prizes, of course) were sets of multiple choice test questions for the categories Manage an Interpreting Encounter and Interact with Other Healthcare Professionals.  There are some sample questions in the official CCHI Handbook, and after we went through those, I decided to write up some of my own, based on my experience writing official exam questions a couple years ago.  They haven’t undergone the rigor that real test questions are subjected to, but they can be the start to a conversation about how we apply ethics and standards to decision making.  Some of you might be thinking of putting together a study group, so I put together some very basic tips for making up practice questions, since they were so popular with my team. Continue reading “Testing, Testing…”

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Preparing for national certification!

during exam prep, make time for coffee breaks!
During exam prep, make time for coffee breaks!

I finished my CCHI certification in 2012, and now I’m getting ready to run a series of informal written test prep workshops for the interpreters in my department, so I’m going to share here my plan to get us ready for the written exam for national certification.

The interpreters in my department are planning to take the written exam the third week of December, so we’ve got about six weeks to prepare.  You might need more or less time.  You get to decide.  Just to give you some context, these are all interpreters with more than 40 hours of training, and at least four years of experience in adult and pediatric settings.  One of them is Burmese, and the rest are from Spanish-speaking countries.   Here’s what we will look at, over the next six weeks: Continue reading “Preparing for national certification!”

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Join me for two CEU-approved workshops!

just add coffee!
just add coffee!

Join me this fall in Louisville, KY for two CEU-approved workshops for trained healthcare interpreters!  The South Eastern Medical Interpreters Association will host two 90-minute workshops at the University of Louisville, Shelby Campus on Saturday, October 4th.

The first workshop, “The Other Interpreter Did It”, focuses on conflict resolution using the principles from our Code of Ethics.  The second workshop, “Interpreting in Mental Health Encounters: The Basics” gives us a foundation for working in the mental health setting.  Both workshops are language-neutral, so interpreters of all languages are invited to join us.  The fee for each workshop is $45, and you get a 20% discount with your SEMIA membership!  Check out the events tab on the SEMIA website for more details, and to register online.  Both workshops have been approved for CEUs through CCHI’s Continuing Education Accreditation Program.  I’m looking forward to a fun learning experience with you, my fellow interpreters!