This past week I had the pleasure of being part of International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) Annual Conference in Rockville, Maryland and United We Are Strong was the theme of the conference.
It is the perfect theme for a group of professional interpreters, language service providers and hospitals to work together to better improve language access to growing need of healthcare interpreting. The three days focused on the importance of quality, certified interpreters, reimbursement for interpreting services and transforming the industry to meet the needs of the growing limited English proficient (LEP) community. As a language service provider it is amazing to watch all of these people come together, share ideas, help train and lead each other without having competition get in the way.
The passion from interpreters who truly love what they do, and are so proud to be part of this profession. Interpreters who are willing to devote their lives to helping people, becoming mentors and being the best of the best. These interpreters are not just bilingual people who use their language skills on a part time basis; this group is dedicated to not only improving themselves, but the profession. It was truly amazing to see them challenge each other, the government and even their clients to step up and join their lives work.
Hospitals in the group have the same passion to help people and ensure that their patients are getting the best care possible. When it comes to language access this can sometime be a challenge for a hospital due to budgets, location and resources in the area. The willingness on their part to work with our industry to strive for balance and improvement is not only refreshing, but much needed.
Then you have my group, language services providers, we are all searching for ways to improve, keep interpreters, expand our services and be the agency of choice. All of us have some of the same struggles and this conference was an example to me that there is plenty of work for all of us. Over the three days we learned from each other, shared resources, exchanged cards and formed potential new working relationships.
In order to keep the industry thriving and interpreters valued, we have to work together not to erode the industry by becoming a commodity. United we are strong!