Should medical students act as interpreters?

Stuart Carney
Med J Aust 2019; 211 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50282
Published online: 19 August 2019

Tapping their diverse skills can benefit not only students, but also patients and health care teams

Casting my mind back to medical school, I recall the anxiety of changing clinical team with each new rotation and the strong desire to be seen to be doing the right thing. Twenty‐five years on, medical students regularly share accounts of the same struggles when I meet with them. I am also struck during these meetings by the diverse experiences that students bring to medical school. It is against a similar backdrop that Ryan and colleagues examined the frequency and experiences of medical students acting as interpreters in health care settings, as reported in this issue of the Journal.1 Their study brings into the open a question rarely discussed in Australia: that of medical students acting as interpreters during clinical placement.

  • Stuart Carney

  • University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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