Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haitian Medical Interpreters

For more about Haitian Creole interpreters, see January 21 post.

I’ve heard it said that some of the NGOs and the missionary organizations in Haiti have been able to do more for people in the earthquake aftermath than the UN. One such organization, the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, has an important medical wing which is now heavily engaged in earthquake relief. The NHCM already had the good sense nearly a year ago to train some medical interpreters to help its foreign doctors.
In April, Northwest Haiti Christian Mission interpreters completed a one-day intensive training course in medical interpreting. The course included study of advanced anatomy and medical terminology, as well as training in interpreting best practices, ethics, and skill-sharpening. In all, 16 Haitian interpreters [see photo] participated in the training, which was led by Erika Olsen, NWHCM staff development coordinator and a former medical interpreter in the United States. Good medical interpreting requires precise, objective communication between doctors, interpreters and patients, and can make a major difference in the quality of care patients receive. The course was part of NWHCM’s ongoing efforts to provide greater training and preparation for all its employees.
Notice that the trainees were already on staff, and therefore Professional Interpreters for the mission. One day’s training isn’t much in itself, but added to the trainees’ previous experience it classes them as Expert Interpreters.

Notice too that the trainer was a medical interpreter from the United States. In America, medical interpreting is becoming widely recognized as a professional activity. There it has its own professional body, the International Medical Interpreters Association, and in Britain it’s recognized as a branch of Public Service Interpreting.

The NWHCM’s website is at There’s information there about how to help their earthquake relief efforts.

The International Medical Interpreters Association website is at It has started to reach out to other countries besides the USA.

Photo: NWHCM


  1. I personally think what this people are doing is something of super heros, so yes these people are my heroes and i think the world is in need of such people

  2. Oh' wish I can also meet them personally. I also want to have a Medical translation services. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

    Medical translation services