Healthcare Interpreting in Small Bites

50 Nourishing Selections from the Pacific Interpreters Newsletter, 2002-2010
By Cynthia E. Roat, MPH

This book teaches about the world of healthcare interpreters in a way that is educational, understandable and fun! This compendium of articles, written over the past eight years for Pacific Interpreters’ monthly newsletter, covers both basic interpreting skills and many of the sticky issues that working interpreters face daily. Whether you are an interpreter, a trainer of interpreters or an administrator of interpreter services, this book will make you laugh, nod your head, and think hard about the important work you do.

What are people saying about “Healthcare Interpreting in Small Bites”?

“This collection of essays on healthcare interpreting is a treasure-trove of practical information, advice, tricks of the trade, good sense and good humor.”

– Bruce Downing, PHD
University of Minnesota

“This book is an invaluable resource for practicing on-site and over-the-phone (OTP) interpreters as well as for aspiring interpreters. Trained healthcare and community interpreters, dual role interpreters (health care professionals with interpreter training), untrained interpreters, interpreting students, and professionals who use the services of interpreters will all find useful advice….

Patrician Thickstun
ATA Medical Division Administrator
In a review for the ATA Chronical




PART I   Tips and Tricks of the Trade

  1. There is No Egg in Eggplant
    Coping with the Confusions of English
  2. The Pre-session
    The Interpreter’s Magic Tool for Avoiding Frustration
  3. The Art of Being Polite
  4. Transparency Means Clarity
    Good Intervention Skills Keep Communication on Track
  5. In the Language of Interpreters, How do You Say “Helpful?”
    Understanding the Role of the Interpreter
  6. Confidentiality across Cultures
  7. When there is No Word for That
    Compensation Strategies for Interpreters
  8. Some Notes on Note-taking for Telephone Interpreters
  9. Memory Techniques for Health Care Interpreters
  10. Interpreter as Advocate – Yes or No?
  11. Sight Translation: What, When and How
  12. Two Big Interpreting Challenges
    Controlling Pacing and Handling Confrontation
  13. Are You as Accurate as You Think You Are?

PART II   The Key to Success is Being Prepared

  1. Not Child’s Play—
    Interpreting in Pediatrics
  2. A Prescription for Accuracy
    Interpreting in the Pharmacy
  3. The Language of Consent
    Sight Translating the Hospital Consent Form
  4. The ABCs of DNA
    Interpreting for Genetic Counseling
  5. Behavioral Health Interpreting—Part I
  6. Behavioral Health Interpreting—Part II
  7. Behavioral Health Interpreting—Part III
  8. Interpreting at the End of Life—Part I
  9. Interpreting at the End of Life— Part II
  10. Interpreting Prayer

PART III    The Under-appreciated Interpreter

  1. My Daughter Speaks English—Why are YOU Here?
  2. Target Practice is Fun (unless you’re the target),
    Or How to Handle Angry Clients
  3. Training the Whole Team
  4. The Docs that Drive You Crazy
  5. Why Don’t They Just Learn English?

PART IV    Rx for Interpreters

  1. Staying Healthy While Serving the Sick
  2. Taking Care of Business
    Tips for the Independent Contractor
  3. Interpreting in Small Communities:
    Keeping Both your Job and your Friends
  4. For the Public Good: Volunteering Your Services
  5. Attend a Convention, Get Energized!
  6. A Healthcare Interpreter’s Guide to Testing—Part I
  7. A Healthcare Interpreter’s Guide to Testing—Part II
  8. Interpreting with a Broken Heart
  9. Laying the Foundations:
    Preparing for National Certification

PART V     Exercises and Puzzles

  1. The Vocabulary of Obstetrics
  2. The Vocabulary of Housing Services
  3. The Vocabulary of Domestic Abuse
  4. The Vocabulary of Dentistry
  5. The Vocabulary of the Business Office
  6. Idioms, Acronyms and Abbreviations
  7. Slang Vocabulary and Expressions
  8. Signs and Symptoms Crossword
  9. The Vocabulary of Cardiology Crossword
  10. The Musculoskeletal System Crossword
  11. Home Health and Safety Terms Crossword
  12. The Vocabulary of Social Services Crossword

CODA: A Christmas Poem for Interpreters

Answers to Exercises and Puzzles