Medical interpreting may not be a very relevant subject matter in the discussion of preventive care when you know English, however people that come to this country from Latin American countries beg to differ. Many times not knowing the language can put them at a disadvantage and even delay preventative care because of the language barrier. At the same time, interpreters face many challenges, which is the reason why there is a lack of interpreters in our communities.
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The need for medical interpreters has grown at a very fast rate due to the growing Latino population throughout the country. Although there have been some important gains in the numbers and availability of interpreters, we see there is still a sizable part of the community that is being underserved.
Challenges for Interpreters and Employers
I have been working as an interpreter for four years and I have seen and experienced some of the challenges interpreters working for social services agencies face, such as:
- Not being able to get certified by the state because there are a limited number of certifications offered by state agencies per year.
- Most interpreters are contractors with a 1099 status (i.e. no employer sponsored health insurance, no paid vacations).
- High turnover from therapist. This in turn can lead to high turnover from interpreters as well due to lack of cases.
Being a bilingual interpret is not all bad, I really enjoy the flexibility of being an interpreter. Though, for many it is hard to consider this job more than just an interim position because the hours are not very dependable. For this reason, many people work as interpreters only on a part-time basis.