Mode Switching in Medical Interpreting and Ramifications on Interpreters' Training

Mode Switching in Medical Interpreting and Ramifications on Interpreters' Training

Effrossyni (Effie) Fragkou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 42
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9308-9.ch013

Abstract

Mode switching is a frequent practice in healthcare interpreting, but has received very little attention. This research aims to bridge the aforementioned gap by investigating the instances of mode switching in interpreter-mediated healthcare encounters and the implications of this practice (or lack thereof) in managing effectively the administration of patients' care. To achieve this aim, the investigator created an online survey intended for trained healthcare interpreters alone. Seventy-five responses were collected over a period of three months (May to July 2019) and analyzed using a mixed methods approach. The objective was to demonstrate how interpreters envisage mode switching from the perspective of the training they received, the applicability of switching in relation to the nature of assignments that call for such shift in modes, the differences in mode switching between spoken and sign language, the institutional or other constraints (such as time limitations, number of participants, power differential among interactants) that call for or hamper mode switching, etc. The collected answers reveal a discrepancy between training and practice as well as between prescriptive requirements and reality in the field of healthcare interpreting. The respondents' comments allow the investigator to make key training recommendations.
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Methodology

As mentioned previously, this chapter is the result of a mixed methods research, insofar as elements of qualitative and quantitative research approaches are used to confirm (or disproof) a hypothesis. Answers to this hypothesis aspire to further our understanding of a specific area of interpreting practices in healthcare settings and to corroborate these findings with similar conclusions in corresponding areas of research (Johnson et al., 2007, p. 123).

The research presented herein has a starting point or original hypothesis and a specific purpose. Both elements fall under the Primary Dimension category of a mixed methods analysis, namely a set of characteristics that constitute a priority during the design phase of any research (Schoonenboom & Johnson, 2017, pp. 108-109). As far as the hypothesis is concerned, the researcher used her personal experience as an interpreter in the healthcare sector and as an instructor of healthcare interpreting to put to the test an assumption according to which healthcare interpreters tend to refrain from using certain modes of interpreting or shy away from them, whenever possible, for reasons that may be attributed to a variety of factors, such as training (formal or professional), spoken vs. sign language interpretation, number of years of experience, institutional constraints, interpreters’ mental and physical capacities and limitations, only to name a few.

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