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Boundaries

You probably already know what boundaries mean in terms of geography, as a line where one area, state, region or country ends and where another begins. In geographical terms, the boundaries of a certain property, for example, are limited by the land within a certain area.

In a similar way, the professional boundaries for being a medical interpreter are limited by duties and activities defined by your job role. In medical interpreting, it is important to understand your job scope: what is within and what is outside the limits of your role as a professional and ethical medical interpreter.

Let's look at a short definition of "boundaries" below within this context.

Boundaries Definition

Definition:  Maintaining boundaries as a medical interpreter means staying within the professional role, and refraining from personal involvement. Example: A patient you are assigned turns out to be the girl you thought you were in love with all through high school who you still want to date.

 

 

 
   
                       
 
 

How are boundaries relevant in the healthcare setting?

i. To stay within the boundaries of your interpreter role is somewhat related to impartiality and trust. It is important that you demonstrate your trustworthiness in the capacity of a medical interpreter by removing yourself from conflict of interest situations, personal involvements and anything that would go beyond the scope of your professional position.

ii. Your job is within a healthcare setting, it is inappropriate for you to become involved in your patients' personal lives.

iii. Your job is to be a professional interpreter. If a patient has certain strong prejudices about you that create a communications barrier which prevent you from properly doing your job, then you should withdraw.

iv. If certain situations prevent you from doing a professional job, then you should withdraw or not accept the medical interpreting assignment. Examples:

- you do not feel technically qualified, (example: simulataneous interpreting or sophisticated vocabulary)

-you feel so uncomfortable with subject matter it prevents accuracy.

- you believel there is a real or perceived conflict of interest.

- you are a relative or close friends with patient or patient’s family.

- the patient topic reminds you of a painful or sensitive topic that prevents you from doing the job objectively, impartially and within boundaries. Examples: war time in Cambodia or El Salvador , rape experience, a political struggle you experienced.

If you discover a limitation after a job started, it is best to express limitation and withdraw but you might continue until the new interpreter is found.
 

You're Almost Done! Good work! You've completed the information portion of Boundaries. Next, you'll be able to practice and apply what you learned at the Boundaries Practice Activity area.

Click on the arrow below to continue to the Boundaries activitiy area to solve problems about relevant on-the-job situations where this principle would be applied.

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