Working with an Interpreter
Tips to work with a trained interpreter:
- Greet the patient first, not the interpreter
- Speak directly to the patient, not the interpreter. For example, "Tell me why you came in today" instead of "Ask her why she came today"
- A professional interpreter will use the first person in interpreting, reflecting exactly what the patient said: e.g. "My stomach hurts" instead of "She says her stomach hurts". This allows you to hear the patient's voice most accurately and deal with the patient directly.
- Speak at even pace in relatively short segments; pause often to allow the interpreter to interpret. You do not need to speak especially slowly; this actually makes a competent interpreter's job more difficult
- Don't say anything that you don't want to be interpret. The interpreter's job is to interpret EVERYTHING
- Speak in: Standard English (avoid slang), Layman's term, straightforward sentence structure, complete sentences and ideas
- Ask one question at a time
- Do not hold the interpreter responsible for what the patient says or doesn't say. The interpreter is the medium, not the source, of the message