Not competitors, but comrades

Not competitors, but comrades: In-person interpreters as users of the Canopy Medical Translator app

Blanca Cecilia Lindner is a Spanish-English medical interpreter who lives and works in North Carolina. She started working as an interpreter in August of 2014 after taking a medical interpreting course.

Speaking two languages fluently does not an interpreter make. Blanca admits that she was not initially convinced she would be good at it. Her first experiences interpreting information from English-Spanish were in transmitting information between her Colombian parents and her German husband; “I would forget to interpret for my husband! My mother would say something in Spanish and I would turn to my husband to tell him, but also in Spanish... I wasn’t naturally good at it. It’s really not easy to transfer information into the other language: even if you speak it fluently, it can get confused. You have to be very clear.”

After taking the medical interpreting course and learning the ropes, Blanca feels that she excels as an interpreter. She translates with ease. Blanca can be called in to interpret for a wide variety of specialties: that's an abundance of medical vocabulary to keep on hand both in English and in Spanish.

Blanca’s appointments are scheduled and she will know a few days in advance whether she will be translating for a cardiologist, dermatologist, a family practice physician, etc. Blanca uses the Canopy Medical Translator app as a refresher for medical terminology. Before arriving at the consultation, Blanca will take some time to go into the app to review important terms:

“When I know I’m interpreting for a cardiologist, I really like to go into the app to look for the most common sentences that might come up in a conversation between the doctor and the patient. I could use a dictionary, but you cannot translate word-for-word! You really need to understand the meaning of the sentence. The app does a really good job with that. I often find that the words in the app are much more appropriate to the greater meaning of what has to be communicated.”

The app is not meant to replace human interpretation; it is a perfect resource for those who are responsible for translating specific and sensitive medical information.

“I have lived in two countries - the United States and Germany - where I didn’t speak a word of the language when I arrived. It was so difficult for me. I remember once I was at a restaurant and I tried so hard to order a steak, but they gave me a Coke. I wasn’t able to say what I wanted! I remember being frustrated, scared. I was so fortunate to be able to learn these two languages, but I know for many people it is not easy. I have always been willing to help people who cannot speak English here in the States. Even in the supermarket, I try to help people communicate. When I realized I could work as an interpreter, it dawned on me that I would be doing something I’ve always wanted to do: help people with my languages.”