People from all walks of life seek medication from Canada. Some or do I say many newcomers do not speak English. Hence it becomes difficult to communicate with the doctors. Other times there could be a communication breakdown when the doctor does not understand their culture or becomes insensitive to their beliefs. Communication is key in the medical world. A simple misunderstanding could result in inappropriate treatments, medical errors and emergency room visits. The interpreters perform an important role in facilitating verbal, non-verbal communication and cultural practices as needed.
Roles of the interpreters
- Ensures that both parties that are the patient and the doctor understand the meaning of words as at the moment.
- They interpret the medical officer’s questions and the answers given by the patient. They go further to elaborate what the patients or doctor’s answer might mean.
- They assist the communication process not leading it. An interpreter should not be in charge of the communication. He should help the two understand each other.
- In cases where the family strongly holds to their culture, he is meant to explain to the doctor why they are responding in a certain manner to his or her questions.
- Drives the doctor away from any words or actions which might be inappropriate culturally and clarity’s or prevents misunderstanding on both sides.
- Makes the family comfortable with the clinician and encourages them to ask questions.
Makes sure that the integrity and confidentiality of both parties are protected.
Qualities and skills to look for in an interpreter
- Should be professionally trained with the right certificates
- Should have an understanding of health issues and medical terms.
- Knowledge of family languages and related dialects.
- He or she should be able to interpret nonverbal expressions. That includes gestures, facial expressions and speech patterns.
- Should be aware of intercultural issues like common taboos, value systems, the role of each family member and attitude towards authority.
- Should be flexible, confident, pays attention to details and with integrity.
- He should be well aware of Canadian healthcare processes and settings.
The best interpreters comprise of people who have been either teachers or former health practitioners in the country of origin but have not had a chance to work as professionals in Canada. Some families will be shy sharing their medical information. The doctor must make sure that the family feels at ease and comfortable with the allocated interpreter. In cases where the family does not like the interpreter maybe because he is from a rival background, you will be forced to excuse him and start the process afresh.