The following are “givens” required to become a successful medical interpreter. If you are not strong in one or more of these areas, further study is needed to succeed.
• Thorough knowledge of medical as well as client’s language
• Cultural fluency in each domain
• Extensive background in area of specialization
• Practice profession concept endorsed during your training
• Understand the interpreter ethics for your field
• Clear speaking voice
• Energy and flexibility with changing situations
Beyond these, this questionnaire is designed to help you analyze yourself, to self evaluate your strengths and challenges. You don’t have to share it with anyone. It may help you identify professional needs and goals, and prompt positive action!
Strengths and Weaknesses
(I) During consecutive interpretation my strengths are:
1) Knowledge of vocabulary
2) Knowledge of procedures
5) Feeling at ease working with other interpreters
6) Feeling self-confident
7) Accepting feedback positively
8) Having participated in training workshops to upgrade my skills
9) Accepting criticism which may arise during the performance of my duties as a professional and not taking it personally.
10) Minimizing involvement with clients (patients, defendants, victims, witnesses, attorneys, relatives, etc.)
(II) During consecutive interpretation my weaknesses are:
1) Improper use of consecutive technique
2) Feeling insecure in my role
3) Being unaware of my loss of concentration and the onset of fatigue
4) Lack of vocabulary to handle an assignment without proper preparation
5) Too inhibited to request a break when too tired to perform efficiently
6) Allowing a mistake to remain uncorrected after I become aware of having made it
7) Feeling uncomfortable when other interpreters are present in the room
8) Too sensitive about criticism or feedback about my performance
9) Lack of self-confidence because I have not kept up with my profession by attending seminars
10) Use of body gestures to convey meaning when under stress or memory lapse (unable to find the “right word”)
(III) What are my strengths when doing simultaneous interpretation?
1) Having a vast and ever growing vocabulary
2) Ability to shut out noise
3) Ability to overcome boredom
4) Ability to concentrate
5) Ability to overcome minor difficulties in voice volume or speech mannerisms
6) Ability to handle assignments with more than one person requiring an interpreter
7) Ability to keep my train of thought without getting confused
(IV) What are my weaknesses when doing simultaneous interpretation?
1) I get stuck on some words.
2) I need to improve my simultaneous technique.
3) I need to spend more time reviewing my performance.
4) I am not satisfied with my performance, but I don’t know what to do about it.
5) I get too emotionally involved.
6) I overwork my vocal cords by: talking too loud, whispering, improper breathing, inability to relax.
(V) How do I see myself in my role as an interpreter?
1) I feel positive about it.
2) I get professional recognition.
3) I feel it’s “just another job.”
4) I feel appreciated for what I do.
5) I feel I receive fair compensation.
6) I feel at ease doing my job.
7) I join professional organizations and read all I can about my area of specialization.
8) I get involved in local organizations because I feel I can “make a difference.”
(VI) What increases my sense of security while on the job?
1) I keep up with changes in the law, medicine, and other fields in which I work.
2) I read in my source and target languages to keep up my vocabulary.
3) I develop glossaries and share them with my colleagues.
4) I attend training seminars regularly.
5) I always arrive on time.
6) I always dress as the professional I truly am.
7) I follow the code of ethics of my profession.
(VII) How does stress make itself known in my body?
3) Throat – chest
4) Lower back
6) Do I find myself making tight fists?
7) Is my mouth shut tight, my jaw tense?
8) Do I find myself holding my breath?
9) Do I take shallow breaths and tire easily?
10) Do I perspire profusely when under stress?
11) Am I aware of which situations are most stressful to me?
Adapted from American Translators Association, acknowledgement to Karen Vance, the late Ely Weinstein, and the Translation & Interpretation Institute at Bellevue Community College, WA.