In a recent article for La Voce di New York (VNY), Italian-English medical interpreter Linda De Luca reflects on her experience working in a network of hospitals that serve four of the five boroughs, and the ways in which her career has shaped her worldview. She discusses a phenomenon called reflex pain—”a shared pain for those who bear witness, and which increases proportionate to the degree of empathy with which we are endowed (or condemned).” It is a feeling that many hospital workers, including interpreters, know intimately. After all, “what other place contains more pain than a hospital?”
As an interpreter, De Luca plays a vital role as liaison between the medical staff and patients, as well as their loved ones. Delivering diagnoses and treatment plans is often an emotionally demanding task, but the strength and composure with which her patients consistently receive the news has given De Luca the drive to better herself as a professional. She concludes, “ Is it worth taking on so much pain? Oh yes – every moment – for it is above all through pain that one grows. Difficult though it is, experiencing the pain of others helped me grow tremendously.”
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