I had my first evaluation via interpreter this week, leaving me certain that I'll attempt to learn Spanish when I'm done with school. There are a few things that I realized when the interpreter was translating the eval. First of all, interview "cadence" is not something you usually think about. I was uncomfortable and novel to the situation, stumbled over my words and awkwardly inserted pauses into my questions, which ultimately made me lose my train of thought. It took a while to figure out, but thankfully the interpreter managed well enough.
Second, body language is essential. At first, the interactions felt cold. I really rely on basic conversation, including small talk, to build rapport and make patients feel comfortable. That, obviously, was impossible during this evaluation. What I found was that by paying attention to my body language and interaction with the patient and his mother, I could build a similarly personable relationship without using "spoken" words.
Third, efficiency is key. For what normally would have taken 10 minutes, just obtaining a history through the interpreter took at least 20. When I looked at my watch and realized how much time was passing, I found myself prioritizing the key parts of the exam and saving the rest for subsequent visits. Efficiency is definitely a skill that we students develop over time. I'm not quite there, so this was a huge challenge while at the same time being a great lesson.
I never would have imagined I could learn so much from reflecting on one evaluation. I'll work toward my goal of learning Spanish after this semester is over, but in the meantime I need to master my interpreter-aided evaluations and treatment sessions. It's a fun challenge.