Back when I was supervising my Language Services department, one of my responsibilities was overseeing our bilingual staff and interpreter approval program. Honestly? It wasn’t ever anything I wanted to be in charge of. But I thought it was important. I think it just made me uneasy in the beginning because I could never really pin anyone down to help guide me and answer my questions: Whose language should we evaluate? What should we evaluate? How do we know if they’re “proficient”? What does that mean? How do we evaluate language? Who can be an interpreter? What’s the difference between interpreters and bilingual staff? How do we come up with an evaluation process that people will actually use? Why do we evaluate them? How do we follow up? Essentially: How can we make sure that patients are getting what they need through effective communication when they’re being served by interpreters and bilingual staff?
I’ve got some basics here that may be helpful if you’re responsible for these kinds of things, or if you yourself are a bilingual person working in healthcare, wondering what it means to be an interpreter. Continue reading “Defining and Evaluating Bilingual Hospital Staff and Interpreters”