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Mediated communication in bi- and multilingual health in Korea: perceived roles of healthcare interpreters in Korea
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 09:47 authored by Heiyeon Myung
It was only in 2008 that the concept of community interpreting was introduced in Korea, and 2009 when that of healthcare interpreting was introduced (Kwak, 2010). In addition to the short history of healthcare interpreting in Korea, the fact that the majority of those who currently provide healthcare interpreting in hospitals are not professional interpreters raises questions about the quality of healthcare interpreting services in Korea. Ozolins' (2000) continuum of responsiveness to need places healthcare interpreting in Korea at the ad hoc stage with some instances of generic services in evidence. Due to a dearth of research, little is known about current practices. However, since Korea is witnessing a rapid increase in the number of migrants, it is essential that initiatives be taken to move closer to "comprehensiveness" in healthcare interpreting. Based on observations undertaken during data collection at Soonchunhyang University Hospital1 in Korea in August 2017, the role of healthcare interpreters is ill-defined and the interpreting was often undertaken by bilingual hospital staff who are playing dual roles. For example, bilingual nurses serve as interpreters when needed. The Korean healthcare system is essentially private and therefore inevitably commercialised. Hospitals prefer to hire bilingual staff rather than professional interpreters for the sake of cost-effectiveness (Kwak, 2010). This has resulted in a broadening of the role of the healthcare interpreter to encompass the role of medical coordinator or vice versa. Under the circumstances, clearly defining roles will serve as a stepping stone towards developing tailored training, an accreditation system, and comprehensiveness in the provision of healthcare interpreting in Korea.