• Alysa Salzberg

How COVID-19 has changed medical interpreting

Updated: May 28

It’s hard to think of any area of life that hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. That includes medical interpreting.


Before the health crisis, a majority of medical interpreting was done on-site. Since the pandemic, that’s changed.


In many ways, remote interpreting can be a good thing for both patients in need, and interpreters themselves. For one thing, patients are still able to use the services of an interpreter even if they’re in isolation. On the other side of this, interpreters don’t have to put themselves at risk to do their (very important) job.


A recent article points out that even as the crisis gets under control, it’s likely that some interpreters will continue to work only remotely, for a myriad of reasons, including, in some cases, being part of the vulnerable population.


Important things can still be communicated between patients, doctors, and loved ones, from bad news, to what to expect during recovery. But some critics point out that nothing can really replace on-site work, which allows interpreters to observe non-verbal cues more easily.


Read on to learn more about the current state of medical interpreting, as well as well as what the profession’s future might look like.


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