Quality Assurance Specialist, Medical Interpreting
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What industry or sector do you work in?
I’ve been in the medical interpreting field since 2011. I’ve been with Language Access Network for almost three years now. I started out as a Spanish interpreter and now work in Quality Assurance. LAN specializes in Remote Interpreting (both video and telephonic) for over 500 hospitals across the country. All of our interpreters are located in HIPAA compliant call centers, ready to answer calls and interpret for Limited English Proficient patients 24/7/365.
What drew you to this opportunity? (how did you learn about it/what made you want to take it?)
I had been doing some freelance interpreting through agencies since college, but the unpredictability of my schedule was never ideal for me. I did an online search and found LAN. It was perfect for me since I wanted to continue interpreting and it offered me a more stable work/life balance. I was also thrilled to be a part of the company’s diverse culture. We have interpreters for more than 50 languages, so that’s a lot of exposure to different cultures and languages on a given day.
Did your training in linguistics play a part in your getting this job? If so, how?
The Head Recruiter at my company was already somewhat familiar with the field of linguistics when he came across my resume. Seeing a double major in Spanish and Linguistics, he felt confident that I not only learned how to speak the language, but how to think about it in a different way. He knew native speakers don’t necessarily think about language in the way linguists do, and he was eager to hire someone with a more analytical approach.
How do you understand your background in language and communication as shaping your work?
Being part of a large group of interpreters, especially fellow Spanish speakers, linguistics is always a constant conversation piece whether it’s known or not. Variation and language attitudes are constantly coming up in conversation. Now that I work in Quality Assurance it’s even more relevant to my daily life. Patient comprehension and smooth communication is always of the utmost importance.
What is a typical day like for you?
Every morning, I plan out which interpreters I will observe that day. During the encounter, I take notes on the interpretation. The session is assessed on accuracy and faithfulness to the original message, adherence to interpreter ethics, as well as customer service. Afterward, I meet one on one with the interpreter to review strengths, progress, and areas for improvement. I essentially act as an extra set of eyes and ears during the call, and during feedback discussions we focus on how the interpreter can further develop themselves professionally to be the best interpreter possible.
What are the tasks that you perform regularly? Which of these do you enjoy performing most / least?
Besides monitoring and coaching interpreters, a bulk of my time is spent having discussions about language with my colleagues.
What would you change about your job if you could?
When the opportunity presents itself to introduce a sociolinguistic perspective, it can be hard to gauge how that will be received. I’m fortunate to work with many open-minded and bright individuals who have encouraged me and helped me get where I am today. Diffusing this knowledge to the masses I think is any linguist’s biggest challenge, and we’ve probably all had moments when we wish we could magically make everyone get on board with our vision. However, it would be far less gratifying if we didn’t have to work for the change we want to see.
What emerging trends do you see / changes that will impact this work in future?
Telehealth in general is becoming more and more prevalent so with that comes growth. More demand for interpreters and positions like mine will accompany that. Immigration patterns and world events also have a huge impact on the industry in terms of what languages are in demand at a given moment.
What advice would you have for a linguist trying to break in to / create opportunities for themselves in this line of work?
Interpreting as a field has gone through a lot of positive change and standardization in the recent years. There’s a lot of room for linguists’ niche skillset due to the nature of the work and the field being very open to new ideas. One such area that I hope to explore more soon is research. Studies within the interpreting realm would benefit hugely from having a linguist’s perspective.
Goals for the immediate future in my career include helping to design research relevant to the field of medical interpretation and training content based on linguistic theory. Trainings that I am especially excited about developing would educate interpreters on language variation, language contact and change, accent modification and non-standard dialects.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and experience with us here at Career Linguist, Sarah!!
To reach out or learn more, you can find Sarah on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-stockler-rex-946b6829/en
or contact her at her work – her e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org