Tips for Working with Interpreters

We live and work in the southwest where there are pepole from all over the world who speak many different languages. Some of your patients or family members might have proficiency to have a social conversation in English but not feel they have the proficiency needed to understand complex medical concepts or engage in shared decision-making.

This set of videos aims to assist you in working with language interpreters, including for patients whose language is ASL (American Sign Language.

Working with Interpreters Over the Phone

In the first video, 10 Tips for Working with Interpreters for Healthcare Workers, the presumption is that residents and other physicians woud be working with an interpreter in person. Although it is more common for residents and others to use a phone service with certified interpreters, the same tips for interacation and patient communication apply.

For example, hold the phone so you, the patient and interpreter can hear one another well. While you will be tempted to look at the phone as you speak or when the interpreter speaks, remember to engage the patient directly in the same way that you would if you could communicate directly in English. By looking at the patient, you communicate respect and concern, but also will be able to get a sense of whether they understand what the interperter has said, or whether you might need to further explain what is going on or what is about to happen.