As a language expert in Thai <–> English, I deeply treasure my encounters as an interpreter. A memorable experience was my call with a lady who wanted to keep her HIV positive status secret from the healthcare professionals.
This past winter, I was assigned to interpret for a patient who came to the hospital with complaints of flu-like symptoms. As the nurse was asking about her health history, she did not reveal any past health issues. The nurse walked away to go call the doctor in. I had a gut feeling that something was missing, that the patient was not telling the nurse her complete health history. I continued asking personal questions. Then, she opened to me and asked whether it was really necessary to tell everything to the doctor. I told her Yes and that it was crucial for her to tell everything about her health in order for the doctor to give her the best treatment. I was able to interpret the full story: she was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. As a result, the nurses had to call a team of doctors into the room. To be a good interpreter, following a routine is not enough. We really have to tap into our compassion when dealing with the human issues we face on a daily basis. I walked away from the call with true appreciation for these opportunities to help others.