Booking Ahead for a Great Healthcare Interpreter

My goal is that my clients enjoy great success. We make a concerted effort to arrive early to appointments and provide professional, knowledgeable, and ethical interpreters. Over the years, I have noticed a common trend that can at times effect the quality of the interpreting event.

  1. Determine in advance if someone requires an interpreter and make the call

This is a bigger issue than you might think. It is common for us to receive a call from our distressed client asking for an interpreter right now. They forgot to schedule one and the patient is in the waiting room. Our office immediately goes into wild panic mode as we consult our interpreter directory and begin making calls!

  1. We telephone:
    • Local certified interpreters first
    • Then local qualified interpreters evaluated and regularly trained by us who enjoy a great reputation
  2. If unsuccessful, we contact those who have worked with us in the past with a good reputation
  3. Next, we call the remaining interpreters on our list, those who may have interviewed but not yet worked with us

It is rare for us to reach the bottom of our list, but it has happened. What does this mean? If you call last minute, we can probably find you an interpreter, but we cannot always guarantee top quality. 

Many national agencies also have a list that they use. They often struggle with simply finding coverage. If you make a last-minute request from them, all you can really hope for is a warm body to cover. However, if you give advanced notice and specify that you need a certified interpreter, they can typically comply.

  • 2. Identify the proper language

It’s imperative that you ascertain the correct language. For us, Spanish is by far the most requested language (and Chinese is not a language). If you don’t remember to tell us, we assume that you request a Spanish interpreter. You might be surprised how often we are told that they don’t know what language it is. Inform us if it is Hindi, Russian, American Sign Language, French, Korean, etc. (these language pairs are 99% impossible to fulfill with less than 24 hours’ notice). Many languages necessitate more effort and time to locate an available interpreter.

As you can see, promptly identifying the need for an interpreter and the language will afford you the opportunity to schedule early and be prepared. The sooner you assess the need for an interpreter and advise us, the better our chances of localizing a top-notch professional.

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