Career Information for a Bilingual Clinic Assistant

The following interview outlines what it takes to get a job as a Bilingual Clinic Assistant and what to expect throughout a health care career. This is a true career story as told to LatPro and is one of many interviews with individuals in the healthcare profession, including a Drug Abuse Counselor, Psychotherapist, and many more. I work as a Bilingual Clinic Assistant in the public health sector of my county. I have been in this position for approximately three years. I would say my job requires three very strong qualities: patience, persistence and endurance. As a Latina woman working as an interpreter, it becomes a struggle between doctor and patient. A patient will often treat me as if I were the doctor, while the doctor is at times doubtful of my translation. Part of it is probably being a woman in a supporting role to powerful men, while also being part of the minority groups that they need me to translate for in the first place. I do far more than just translate, although that is where I get the most recognition. My responsibilities shift and change constantly, depending on the need for translation on a particular day. It can be quite frustrating to come to a different job almost every day. The translation is the only thing that remains constant. My job is very satisfying on one front, but frustrating on the other. Helping a patient is always a “10” on the experience scale - it is always moving to help a sick person, especially when they have no way to speak for themselves. However, being abused by co-workers and bosses who change your duties on a whim is a “2” at best. There is something very unique about this work situation that most people do not take into account. Many of the patients have diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV and require your assistance as much as the others. There is no room for any germ-phobia. I started this line of work sort of by chance. I moved into a new state and was desperately searching for a job. This was the best one to offer me any kind of a position. There is a lot of office drama involved in this environment and I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut. At first, I wanted to make friends with all of my co-workers, but the polarized groups caused friction with a few bosses. I learned my lesson quickly. The working world is very different from school in that the smartest people are usually not the ones in charge. It is about who you know and what you have done. The strangest thing I have ever experienced would have to be trying to translate an argument to a doctor. A wife had just contracted herpes from her husband, which revealed that he had obviously been cheating. It was quite the scene. There are many patients who make me happy to have come in. They are hopeless and lost when they come in, but taken care of when they leave. The only issue I take with the job is the problem of office politics. The appointment desk workers often are at odds with the health providers and create childish dramas over office supplies and medical forms. The job can be extremely stressful due to the nature of the industry. Getting something across to the doctor incorrectly can make a huge difference to whether someone is diagnosed correctly. Giving someone the news that they have a disease is no fun either. The salary is a bit low for the level of stress involved. I average about $20,000 a year. The region I work in is below poverty level, so it is actually a pretty good pay grade for the area. However I feel someone working with so much sensitive, private information should be paid a bit more. I take my vacation days whenever I earn them and it never feels like enough. Some days at work are so intense that it feels like you need a week off. I got my job with an associate’s degree and by passing a Spanish fluency test. The minimum education standard is a high school degree, but Spanish is a must. If a friend wanted my career advice on whether or not to enter this field, I would tell them it is a great job for those that are passionate about helping others. That being said, it is a very stressful job to take on. JustJobs.com is a job search engine that finds job listings from company career pages, other job boards, newspapers and associations. With one search, they help you find the job with your name on it. Bilingual clinic assistant image from Shutterstock

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