Our interpreters are among the most qualified in the healthcare market, setting the highest standard for credentials, experience and training. This month we celebrate the skill and dedication of our diverse interpreter team and their commitment to ensuring all patients have access to safe, high quality care.
Not all those who wander are lost. That expression is particularly apt for Lindsay, a woman who turned her lifelong passion for language, travel and living on multiple continents, into a dynamic career in professional interpreting.
Lindsay was born in California, but moved to Washington when she was very young. She grew up in the evergreen state and went onto college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. During her time in undergrad, she studied abroad in Martinique, a rugged Caribbean island, and then completed a full semester in Senegal, a country on Africa’s west coast and a former French colony. These experiences only fueled her love of the French language and travel, and she decided to move to France after graduation, where she worked as an au pair for a family who lived just north of Paris.
During her time in France, she took a trip to Morocco. She was so affected by the country, that shortly after her visit, she decided to move to Marrakesh where she lived for two years and taught English.
“My love of learning languages and my fascination of the whole process of how people learn languages really propelled me,” she said. “I enjoyed teaching English to Moroccans, from elementary school students to adults who were well into their career or retired.”
At this point, Lindsay began to notice something about herself that was very revealing. She spent most of her free time studying French and Arabic for fun, and she began to wonder why she couldn’t pursue language as a career. She started researching schools for interpretation and translation when she came upon the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), in Monterey, California. At the time, that was the only graduate school in the United States that offered a master’s degree for interpreting in French, so it was the only option. Fortunately for Lindsay, the school is renowned for its interpreting program.
“Even though I’d lived in French speaking countries for a few years at this point, I knew my French needed to improve if I was going to be accepted into this prestigious graduate program,” she said.
At this point, Lindsay decided to move back to France to a rural town located in central France, Guéret, in Creuse, where she spent a year teaching English in the public elementary schools.
“It was a far cry from Paris, but I knew that was the best option for me,” she said. “People don’t need English as much for their jobs in rural communities because there are fewer tourists. It was the perfect place for me to work on my French. It was beautiful. Ninety-five percent of my life was in French. The only time I was using English was in the classroom teaching English.”
During her time in Guéret, she applied for the graduate program at MIIS. Once she was accepted, she returned to the United States after several years abroad. She joined 11 other first-year students in the French translation and interpreting program. Lindsay completed a dual track of translation and consecutive interpretation and took elective classes in conference interpreting as well.
After Lindsay graduated, she moved back to Washington State where she became a full-time medical translator from home for six months before she received an offer from InDemand to become a medical interpreter in Wenatchee.
“I thought it was amazing that I was able to use my French full-time as an interpreter, and I was excited to expand into medical interpreting with InDemand, which is something I had yet to explore.”
About this same time, Lindsay was also preparing to start work as a French contract interpreter for the U.S. Department of State.
“When I accepted the position at InDemand, I was in the middle of an extensive screening process after flying to Washington D.C. for testing,” she said. “InDemand has been extremely flexible with my schedule over the years and has supported my contract work for the U.S. Department of State.”
This position has required Lindsay to leave for up to six weeks at a time to interpret for the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, which trains military personal or police forces in SWAT and other military techniques. The participants are from different countries, such as Egypt or Chad. It was quite exciting. Lindsay would spend all day on the shooting range or out practicing SWAT tactics.
During her time with the U.S. State Department, Lindsay has also worked as a liaison interpreter for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), which invites leaders from all over the world to spend three weeks in the United States. Each delegation travels around the country, with interpreters if needed, to experience American culture, better understand U.S. politics and exchange ideas with other professionals in their specific field. The impressive delegates have included high-level politicians, doctors, researchers, star sports reporters, artists and entrepreneurs. Each three-week program is tailored to the delegates’ personal and professional goals for the visit, and is organized in the spirit of citizen diplomacy.
“It has been a fascinating experience to meet all of these inspiring people and participate in high-level meetings and to hear in great detail about issues they are tackling back home such as anti-terrorism, rural health or the Ebola crisis. It is a win/win for the professionals to learn from each other and build friendly ties. It builds goodwill between the United States and these people, who are leaders in their countries.”
Lindsay’s time at InDemand has provided her with medical insights that have benefited multiple aspects of her career.
“Working at InDemand has provided me with medical exposure that has given me a broader background,” she said. “Once I was traveling with a gentleman from Mali who was diabetic. I had to help him with his glucometer, and I knew how to use it from my work at InDemand. My breadth of experience in all of these different specialties of interpreting has been much more than I ever could’ve hoped for when I pursued this career.”
Lindsay completed her most recent U.S. State Department job in May 2017 when she was seven months pregnant. Once her son was born in 2017, she began working almost exclusively at InDemand, with occasional work as a freelance conference interpreter.
“Working at InDemand has provided me with an opportunity to expand my career as a medical interpreter, and I’m excited about really focusing on medical interpreting for the next phase of my career,” she said. “At the core of everything InDemand does, the company is really concerned about its patients, and the ultimate goal is to ensure patient health and a good experience for patients and providers in healthcare. That, above all, is what I like about InDemand.”
“I also think we are offering something that is absolutely necessary. When people who cannot speak English come into the ER in the middle of the night, where else are they going to get a French interpreter at that hour? We offer something that is essential—on demand interpreting that would not otherwise be possible. What we do is necessary and what we offer is necessary. The fact that InDemand is continually striving to improve is a great thing for our industry as a whole and great for our patients. We are continually pushing for perfection, and we are moving in the right direction.”
Lindsay has also been a board member for the Northwest Translators & Interpreters Society (NOTIS) since 2015. NOTIS is a professional non-profit organization that fosters professional networking, offers continuing education, provides scholarships, and supports employment opportunities for translators and interpreters in the Pacific Northwest. Along with her NOTIS colleagues, Lindsay is working to increase access to continuing education for interpreters in smaller cities. She recently collaborated with her local InDemand call center and a local medical provider, Confluence Health, to bring in-person medical interpreter training to Wenatchee for the first time.