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Medical Interpreting

Earlier this month, I got the 1st dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine. I will be getting the 2nd dose next week.

I recently learned that this vaccine already has an international nonproprietary name (INN) – tozinameran. At present, it's sold under the brand name Cominarty®.

As you know, drugs and medications have three names:

  • A chemical name – the written name of the drug's chemical structure

  • A generic name – the drug's universal common name

  • A trade or brand name – the drug's registered trademark by a company

On this note, I'd like to acknowledge two professionals who have recorded webinars on this subject for translators and interpreters:

  • Gloria M. Rivera has two 2-hour sessions about drugs and medicines—one in English and one in Spanish—that can be purchased through her Blue Urpi website.

  • Tatiana Cestari presented a one-hour session about pharmacology in English at the ATA 61st Annual Conference, and it's available for those who attended.

I had the pleasure of watching these sessions this year!

When I recently spoke about the different COVID-19 vaccines, I mentioned that I qualified to get the shots as a healthcare worker. Although I've never marketed myself as such, I've been working as a medical interpreter for patients at clinics and hospitals on occasion in both Chicago and Salt Lake City.

The onset of the pandemic a year ago prevented me from taking on on-site interpreting assignments. Fortunately, I'll be able to work safely again two weeks after the second dose. That's because immunity doesn't happen immediately after vaccination. What remains to be seen, however, is whether immunity will be forever or not.

CHECK: Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

For many years, I refused to choose a specialty as a translator. I was comfortable being a generalist. Until I relocated to the United States in 2016, I had mostly focused on the finance and marketing industries.

I had always dreamed of becoming an audiovisual translator, but I ended up specializing in medicine and health sciences. While I plan to continue focusing on medical translation, I've recently made a new decision:

I'm going to become a certified healthcare interpreter!

This week, I began taking the 40-hour program for Spanish interpreters that the Medical Interpreting Training school offers online. Once I complete it, I will take the oral and written exams to become a certified interpreter.

I have yet to decide whether it will be through the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters or the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters. I'm open to hearing your advice and opinions on this subject.

MORE: Contact me

Since my mission is to bridge language barriers between healthcare professionals and patients, I'm happy to be helpful both as a medical translator and as a medical interpreter.

I'm grateful to be getting this vaccine. Besides continuing learning, I look forward to helping more American residents whose primary language is Spanish. With me, language will never be a barrier to access and receive healthcare services.


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