I cannot tell you how many times the following has come up. The other day a physical therapist turned to me and said “I wish your team were doing our interpreting!” I asked her why.
The therapist replied that over many years she had observed different interpreters doing things that in her eyes were dreadful! Interpreters that would tell the patient what medical treatment they should obtain. She mentioned greedy interpreters doing “shady things” offering to do favors after the appointment for a hefty price. Another action that also troubled her was the interpreters sitting down playing video games on the phone or I-pad during the appointment instead of working.
Frequently physical therapy appointments will repeat the same exercises and end with 10 or 15 minutes with the patient getting iced. Some might find it a little monotonous or even boring. She likes our team because we always stand next to the patient attentive and ready to interpret at any moment. You see, every so often a question will pop into the therapist head. They might inquire as to the patient’s pain level, or ask about a specific symptom.
It is infuriating to ask a client an important medical question only to see that the interpreter has disappeared. Then when he or she is located you find them sitting somewhere engrossed in a game of angry birds! The therapist then thinks, “Are they getting paid to do nothing?” Why is this person here?
What a terrible disgrace it is for someone with excellent technical interpreting skills to ruin their reputation because of playing games. Although many of the medical professional around us are very friendly, the do observe every action we take. Instead of playing video games, interpreters need to be on top of our game (the work we are assigned to do.)