Video clips of nurses working with interpreters are part of a new e-learning module aimed at helping clinicians be more confident with including interpreters in patient consultations.

The module has been developed by a team of researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, to provide ‘realistic and practical guidance’ for nurses and doctors working with interpreters, particularly in primary health care. It was a response to the growing number of new New Zealanders – both migrants and refugees – with limited proficiency in English and builds on research carried out since 2009 into using interpreters in primary care.

One of the module developers, Jo Hilder, said professional interpreting services were increasingly available but were still under-utilised and it was hoped the learning module would help both practising clinicians and students to be more aware and confident of working with interpreters.

The module features a toolkit of flowcharts and tables that highlight what to consider when making decisions on the best approach for a given situation and the pros and cons of the different interpreting options, including using family. Hilder said they used authentic video footage, with the full consent of all involved, of real doctors and nurses working with patients and interpreters.

The learning package covers a range of topics, including practice advice on seating arrangements and the extra care and skill required if nurses and doctors are considering using patients’ family members as an interpreter option. The focus of the module is on spoken language, but it also provides some information on interpreting NZ Sign Language for deaf patients. The authors also point out that the module is focused on primary health care and there would be slightly different needs for other forms of care, such as mental health care, in-patient care and emergency department care.

The resource is available online here.

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