Interpreter Spotlight: Meet Beena Sanghavi

Sep 14, 2021

Beena Sanghavi is a medical interpreter and translator of Gujarati and Hindi. This is the latest in our series of Liberty Language Services Blog posts highlighting the variety of careers available in the field of interpreting, and the variety of professional language specialists who work as Liberty interpreters.


How long have you been working as an interpreter? I’ve been working as an interpreter for about a year now.

Why did you choose this profession? My mother got diagnosed with breast cancer and I remember her having an extremely hard time communicating with her doctors and care team without us there. Watching her interpreter work with her and become her champion through her cancer journey motivated me to become a translator for Gujarati and Hindi. I really want to bridge language barriers and help people like my mom.

How did you get started as an interpreter? At the first oncologist visit I went to with my mom, I watched her interpreter make her feel so comfortable and secure despite the difficult diagnosis. It made me feel inspired and excited to learn more about this passion. Before becoming an interpreter, I was a stay-at-home mother, raising and nurturing my two children. Liberty is my first employer as an interpreter.

Do you remember your first interpreting assignment? I remember it super well because I was very nervous, but I knew I had to get rid of my nerves to focus and support my patient. It was a learning opportunity for me to grow and become more comfortable with patient interactions.

How do you prepare for your assignments? I usually prepare by reading notes, rehearsing patient names so I say them correctly, watching videos, and getting familiar with the hospital/location. I also always arrive early so I have time to get settled and find my location.

How has Covid-19 affected your work as an interpreter? I’ve been extremely cautious of my workplaces and the people I meet. I’ve also practiced COVID protocols such as wearing a mask, social distancing, regular hand washing, etc.

Do you recommend any app or tool that is helpful for new interpreters? 1. Parking applications to help find parking locations easily at new places.

2. Finding ways to communicate for no-shows. It would be helpful to have an application that allows interpreters to directly message their patients to understand what their situation is and to be informed about any delays, cancellations, etc.

How did you develop and maintain your professional skills? I developed and maintained my professional skills by the various experiences and the people I met. Whether it was a clinic or school or rehab facility, I’ve been able to support different types of patients and their medical journeys, which pushed me outside my comfort zone and allowed me to practice my patient interaction skills in all settings. I also developed my professional skills through Liberty’s 40-hour interpreter course and program.

What do you think is the most important thing you should do to be a successful interpreter? I think being confident in yourself and your interpreter abilities is critical to becoming successful. Confidence in your skills will allow you to be comfortable and relaxed around your patient and will allow you to best serve in this capacity.

What would you like changed or improved in the interpreting industry? I think interpreters are crucial to the healthcare ecosystem and are deeply involved in the support system of patients. There is room for improvement in terms of increasing benefits (salary, insurance, etc.) to recognize that we are critical players in healthcare and the interpreting industry altogether.

What was the most memorable interpreting experience you’ve had? The most memorable interpreting experience I’ve had was with an elderly, Indian woman in a rehab facility. Since her journey to recovery was long, I was able to support her care and be her interpreter for an extended period of time. She would always wait for me to arrive with a big smile on her face. Small experiences like this make my interpreting career worthwhile.

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