Is it my obligation to translate?

  1. I currently work in a medical facility that is predominantly Hispanic, 90%. The majority of our licensed nurses and the majority of our doctors don't speak Spanish. I am one of the few Spanish speaking nurses in the units. I am constantly being pulled from one place to the other to interpret. I don't get any compensation for translating. Sometimes, I am so busy that I don't have time to drop what I am doing to translate. I want to be a team player but at the same time, I am tired of always interpreting! Our hospital's interpreting phones are not that reliable and it takes more time to access the service than to find me to translate! Lately I've been saying "No, I'm not available!" or "I'm not certified to translate." I feel bad but come on. If I wanted to be a professional translator, I would of gone to school and would of obtain an interpreter's license. Am I wrong for feeling this way?
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    About AngLVN

    Joined: Mar '12; Posts: 17; Likes: 6


  3. by   1pinknurse
    You aren't wrong to feel as you do. I am half Hispanic & half caucasian yet raised caucasian. There are many jobs that I couldn't even apply too because I am not bilingual. I do speak basic Spanish from what I learned in high school. Just based off looks, no one has a problem assuming I am bilingual. I had to eventually tell interviewers that yes I do speak basic Spanish cause otherwise it would have been hard getting a job in Southern Cali. If I were you, I would be honest about it. I would help out if I could & if I couldn't, I would just say so. Many employers are demanding bilingual nurses & it is just making the already difficult job market even more difficult. Personally, I don't think I should have to be bilingual in the USA to get a job. JMO
  4. by   JustBeachyNurse
    I would say, no you are not wrong for feeling that way. I do believe the current recommendation is that a facility must have certified medical translators (general translators aren't all certified to interpret in medical situations). If you are not credentialed as a medical interpreter, you should not be doing such. For a quick non medical translation (are you hungry? do you have pain?) not as much of an issue if you are able to complete your other duties. Seems like they are taking advantage of your linguistic skills. One hospital I worked at offered compensation to qualified staff to work as non-medical interpreters. Some licensed staff were offered the opportunity to become credentialed as medical interpreters (paid training and compensation when used as medical interpreters).

    White paper on the joint commission regulations:
    'Even though federally funded hospitals and other facilities are required by law to provide access to competent language services, the regulations are often loosely followed. Many organizations are uninformed, and their support staff is ill prepared to access the appropriate services. Some hospitals continue to assist LEP patients by relying on patient family members, untrained bilingual staff, unmonitored contract interpreters, poorly tested language service providers, or some combination of them all.

    To meet the standards, medical interpreters—whether they work full time, part time, or through a service provider—must have a formal education and be trained and assessed specifically in medical interpretation. In addition, human resources departments are expected to maintain files for all medical interpreters, regardless of their employee status. As part of The Joint Commission tracer reviews, hospitals
    are expected to provide surveyors with documentation proving that each interpreter has undergone competency assessment. This same level of documentation must be included in all remote language service provider contracts. Contracts must also provide assurance that the service providers’ competency standards are consistent with the hospital’s internal requirements. Consistent with existing federal, state and local laws The Joint Commission standards also require written translations for vital documents such as informed consent documentation, complaint forms, and information on the availability of free language assistance programs"

    Here's another article: Standards Issued for Healthcare Interpreter Services