This post is the first of a new series of interviews:
Please meet José Huarancca!
José is a fellow medical translator (English-Spanish) and a medical doctor who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University in 2013.
José and I met during a virtual event that was organized for 2021 International Translation Day. Since he recently mentioned wanting to become more active on LinkedIn, I thought interviewing him would let others know more about him.
What pain do you solve?
I can help get messages across to patients and healthcare providers without risking mistranslation. That is a critical issue in the medical world since we know that a mistake in wording or terminology could cause unnecessary procedures or wrong treatments for patients — and it could even be the cause of a costly lawsuit for healthcare providers. I am here so that these problems can be avoided.
Can you give us an example of what you do?
I have worked with different translation agencies and for Translators without Borders for the last seven years. These are some of the subjects and topics I translate:
As a person with epilepsy, I am very familiar with neurological terminology.
Do you only work on translation projects that are related to medicine? If not, what other types of projects do you also work on?
I mainly work on my medical specialization areas. However, I have recently started working on translations in the education field. I have also taken generic projects that include many different topics, such as art, climate monitoring, female rights, gender equality, short stories, and sports activities.
What are your credentials?
Besides my seven years of experience working as a translator and my bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery, I have completed the following:
Advanced Program of English certificate, specializing in pronunciation, grammar, academic writing, and the practice of oral communication skills from the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (2005)
Essential Skills Certificate Program from the American Medical Writers Association (2019)
English to Spanish PROZ.com Certified Pro Network certificate (2020)
Spanish to English PROZ.com Certified Pro Network certificate (2020)
What kind of training(s) do you take to continue to improve your skills?
I am currently learning new languages — Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese — with Duolingo. I am also aiming to improve my typing speed. In order to never stop translating, even when I do not have paid work, I donate words to Translators without Borders, which gives me both medical and non-medical translation tasks. To learn, improve, or review my translation, editing, proofreading, or networking skills, I use the American Translators Association website for the different articles they write or classes they offer. And, of course, to train my body daily, which is essential for us people who do sedentary work, I use the “Insanity: The Asylum” workouts by Shaun T.
What type of clients do you generally work with? Do you have any preference?
My main clients are agencies that deal with medical content. I have worked with agencies from many countries around the globe, including the USA, India, Turkey, Spain, and Japan. I have also worked with agencies that asked me to translate other types of content, such as educational content. I have one direct client, and it is a great working relationship. She is a medical writer with a medical and research background. I like working with both agencies and direct clients — agencies give me steady work, but direct clients pay pretty well. I am hoping to gain more direct clients in the future.
What kind of projects or areas do you have the most difficulty with?
Aside from uneditable images with lots of text, I find medical handwriting challenging to work with. I am glad my handwriting did not turn out like that back when I was in medical school.
What type of dilemmas have you encountered as a translator? How have you dealt with those?
Accepting more work than I can handle, which is not unique to our profession, but it happens to many of us. I had to spend many sleepless nights finishing my work. In hindsight, I should have said no or requested an extension of the deadlines. One issue I encountered at the start of my career was working for pennies. I have to say I lacked proper knowledge of the translation market, which led me to accept meager rates. And there are scams. I was once asked for a translation that took me an entire week to finish. The problem occurred once I tried invoicing the client because they suddenly disappeared, and the email I was using to contact them stopped working. Since then, I have always done my due diligence to research possible clients properly (e.g., contacting through LinkedIn or looking up reviews from other translators on Proz.com).
Do you have any tips for other translators that you would like to share?
The following may sound obvious to some — please do not use Google Translate. Once you finish your translation, take a break, preferably a day or so; then, review the translation side by side with the original. Let one more day pass by and proofread with a fresh mind; and if you have the time, one more day to proofread once more. I also recommend standing up from your chair and stretching every 30 minutes. Exercising is very important. Whoever says life is too short to do so will probably die young. Exercising also helps reduce the stress from the long hours of working.
And finally, do you have any short- or long-term goals that you would like to share?
For the short term:
Increasing the number of my direct clients.
Making my own website.
Learning about subtitling software.
Increasing my typing speed to 70 words per minute.
For the long term:
Learning Japanese and Portuguese well enough to translate into those languages.
Traveling the world to experience different cultures and places.
Working in audiovisual translations, specifically videogame translations.
Getting a chiseled body.
Thank you very much for participating in this interview, José. Best of luck with your goals!
I hope you have enjoyed this interview. If you would like to participate in this series, feel free to reach out to me.