That Interpreter Blog

change, Personal, self discovery for interpreters

La Despedida (The Farewell)

IMG_3757At my first job as a hospital staff interpreter, my colleagues would scold me because I would never saludar–say hello–at the beginning of the workday (I will just never be a morning person). They’d also razz me because I’d never despedirme–say goodbye–at the end of the workday when I’d leave to go home. I’d just slip out quietly, usually after a very tough and very busy day of healthcare interpreting. La despedida–the goodbye, the farewell–has never been my strong suit.

Earlier this year, in July, I said my goodbyes to the house that I bought the summer I turned 30 and then rented out this summer–the summer I turned 40. So many great (and not-so-great) parts of my life unfolded in that house, but I know that I can keep all those parts of my life and all those memories without still living in the house. I don’t need that house anymore. Somebody else lives there now, but after I left I’d still catch myself just about to suggest dinner or drinks at my favorite neighborhood haunts. But, I’m not there anymore. Farewell, house. Farewell, neighborhood. Farewell, all the places where I met with friends, debriefed after a rough day, plotted and schemed, planned so many of my next moves–including grad school and my move to Toronto–over drinks. Continue reading “La Despedida (The Farewell)”

health care interpreting, interpreter services, language access, leadership for interpreters, medical interpreting, supervising interpreters

Defining and Evaluating Bilingual Hospital Staff and Interpreters

IMG_3830Back 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”

court interpreting

For the Record: A Healthcare Interpreter in Court

Can a healthcare interpreter work in court? With the right training and a little courage, sure!
Can a healthcare interpreter work in court? With the right training and a little courage, sure!

I wonder how many healthcare interpreters there are out there like me, who are dipping their toes in the waters of legal and court interpreting.  At a certain point, you just have to go out there and do it.  After passing my state certification exams, and two grad school courses in court interpreting, I couldn’t put it off anymore.  It’s scary to go do something new after having spent over a decade in healthcare, so here are some tips that might help someone who’s one step behind me.

Where do I go?  I’ve had the training, I’ve memorized the terminology and the set phrases, I know what our ethical principles are.  But the most uncomfortable part?  I don’t know where to go.  I don’t know who to report to.  I haven’t yet been to the same place twice.  Sometimes it’s easy.  I go to an assignment in a private office, and they’re waiting for me.  Other times, like in court, I don’t know who to check in with.  I don’t want to talk too loud when I ask where to go, and then have the judge shoosh me.  I don’t want to go where I’m not supposed to go.  I’m getting better at scoping out the bailiff, who is a good person to check in with.  I’ve gotten to court assignments early just to sit and observe who all the players are.  Just settling in to the environment helps ease my anxiety about where I should be. Continue reading “For the Record: A Healthcare Interpreter in Court”

certification for healthcare interpreters, certification prep, health care interpreting, medical interpreter written exam prep for national certification, medical interpreting, new interpreters, oral exam preparation

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”

change, health care interpreting, interpreter services, leadership for interpreters, medical interpreting, remote interpreting, supervising interpreters

Remote Interpreters Need Love Too

Love for ALL interpreters! How's about it, guys?
Love for ALL interpreters! How’s about it, guys? (stickers from www.loveyourtranslator.com)

Managing the switch from on-site to remote interpreter services: Lessons learned from the hospital.

What do you think about telephonic interpreter services? Video remote interpreter services?  Yeah, I know. Everyone wants an on-site interpreter. Any time I see an article about remote interpreter services, and I read the comments, I cringe. People are super mad about integrating the use of remote interpreter services into patient care. And I mean, all people. I’m disappointed that those people include interpreters.  Continue reading “Remote Interpreters Need Love Too”

leadership for interpreters, supervising interpreters

Boss Moves

Love your interpreter, love your supervisor (we hope).
Love your interpreter, love your supervisor (we hope).

Hey, guys!  I’m on my way out of the hospital, and on my way out of the Language Services Supervisor position I’ve held for the last few years.  Over the years I’ve learned a lot, through leadership training and experience, and I’m sharing here a few points for your consideration if you find yourself in the tough position of being a new leader.  The especially tough part of it is that usually you’ve been promoted from an interpreter position to a supervisor position, but the learning curve is so rough at first, it sure doesn’t feel like a promotion.  These tips come from my experience supervising interpreters, but could probably be applied to many fields.

Spend time with the people you supervise or manage:  I’m kind of a loner.  I have a tendency to isolate myself.  When I was an interpreter, that didn’t matter much.  But it matters a lot when you’re supervising people.  For introverts like me, you have to make a conscious effort to get up from your desk and talk to people.  Build relationships with them.  It will be easier for you to give them feedback, and easier for them to approach you if they’re struggling with something.  For people who really thrive spending time with others, the challenge will be to maintain professional boundaries and not over-share. Continue reading “Boss Moves”

change, grad school

Opening the Veuve

poppin' champagne?
poppin’ champagne?

I had this nice bottle of champagne, this bottle of Veuve Clicquot I’d been meaning to open, but I could never quite find the occasion to do it.  It started over a year ago, when I began the process of applying to graduate school for a Masters in Conference Interpreting (MCI).

In January 2014, I sent a letter to the Glendon School of Translation in Toronto expressing my interest in their MCI program.   They seemed interested in me too, and scheduled the interpreting aptitude tests for me.  A win! I passed the first round of tests, and then the second one.  Another win! But no, I wasn’t ready for the Veuve.  Just passing the aptitude tests wasn’t enough of an accomplishment for me.  I was consumed by anxiety while I waited for the results, and when they finally admitted me to the program, guess what?  Yep.  Still no Veuve.  Instead, I was rushing around, panicking, trying to figure out how I’d go to school full-time and work full-time. Continue reading “Opening the Veuve”

certification for healthcare interpreters, certification prep, court certification, health care interpreting, Interpreter Training, medical interpreting, oral exam preparation

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”

Uncategorized

Bad translation mysteries 

A while back, I posted a sign from a local (to me) construction site that said you had to have a “sombrero duro”–very literally, a “hard hat”– to enter. This sign is from a local bar, and while I appreciate their stab at multilingualism, the Spanish is mystifyingly bad. I ran the English version thorough Google translate and a bunch of other translation apps, all of which came up with less horrible versions in Spanish. Who is coming up with this stuff?

medical interpreting, new interpreters, terminology

Mouth Up and Mouth Down: Interpreting in Physical Therapy

weights-2-1495625-1280x960Hey, guys!  I’ve been on a roll lately taking agency jobs (after many years of not working for an agency), and many of them have been for physical therapy appointments.  As a full-time interpreter, I worked a lot with physical therapists, both in the inpatient and outpatient settings, and I forgot how cool the therapists are, and how tough the interpreting can be!  I’ve put together a short list of tips that might help if you’re preparing to interpret in physical therapy.

Open bay transparency: The interpreting I’ve been doing lately takes place in a big open room, where the therapist seeing the patient is interacting with other therapists and other patients (as opposed to having a conversation exclusively with just the one patient I’m assigned to).  In one case, my patient was chatting with another patient next to her–in Spanish.  Being transparent can be tough, but it can be done, and there’s not just one way to do it!  Continue reading “Mouth Up and Mouth Down: Interpreting in Physical Therapy”