Becoming a Medical Interpreter: The Skills You Need

by | Sep 9, 2022

Limited English proficient individuals all need to make use of American healthcare organizations on a daily basis. But without being able to express themselves in English adequately, they can’t get the kind of care they need. Likewise, doctors must communicate with their patients. But it becomes a burden when the healthcare provider and patient do not understand each other. This is where the services of a medical interpreter come in. Naturally, there are certain criteria you must meet in becoming a medical interpreter.

It goes without saying that medical interpreters must have extensive knowledge of the healthcare industry, and they also need to be experienced. They need to be able to communicate the symptoms a patient is experiencing, and if this isn’t done accurately, it can have adverse effects on the health of a patient.

But what are the most critical skills medical interpreter must have?

There are many state organizations, along with the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, the International Medical Interpreters Association, and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, that provide standards of practice for medical interpreting. Here’s a look at some of the critical skills these institutions emphasize.


A Quick Look At The Requirements for Becoming a Medical Interpreter

Language & Interpreting Skills

Any medical interpreter must have a high level of fluency for linguistic conversion. They must also be able to quickly comprehend and translate the message from the source to the target language. These professionals need to think on their feet and be able to express complex concepts and ideas quickly and precisely.


Grasp of Medical Terminology

Medical interpreting is no easy feat and involves a deep knowledge of medical terms in the target and source language. Healthcare interpreters working within specialized areas need an even deeper level of understanding to express complex clinical information. Medical interpreters that work in specialized fields often undergo extensive additional training to ensure they’re able to deliver interpreting services that are complex in nature.


Cultural Competence

Every interpreter, regardless of whether they work in law or the medical industry, needs to have strong cultural competency skills. Medical interpreters must be comfortable with the cultural norms inherent in the native speaker’s country. The field of work often involves interpreting personal subjects, and it can be a challenge to navigate between cultural etiquette and sensitive topics. Healthcare interpreters must be able to accurately interpreter sensitive information to the patient or healthcare provider, ensuring that cultural nuances do not cause important details to get lost in translation.


Code of Ethics

Medical interpreters must agree to guidelines such as patient confidentiality and remaining impartial. There is a host of codes of ethics and instructions in the medical interpreting field, and professional medical interpreters stringently adhere to this code.


Keen on Becoming a Medical Interpreter or Need One ASAP?

Are you looking for experienced and professional medical interpreters to streamline communication within your healthcare organization? Day Interpreting provides professional language interpretation services for a wide range of industries, including a highly specialized medical interpreting service. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our language services and how they can help your organization bridge the language gap.

Seldean Smith
Seldean Smith

Seldean is a multi-skilled content wizard that dedicates herself to writing content that goes beyond merely sparking interest in the audience.

Seldean Smith

Seldean is a multi-skilled content wizard that dedicates herself to writing content that goes beyond merely sparking interest in the audience.

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