Jean-Jacques, an MD, Fled the Democratic Republic of Congo to Become a French and Lingala Interpreter at InDemand


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.

In 2013, Jean-Jacques fled his native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), due to escalating conflict and the rising power of a new rebel group, the M23. Reports of mass rapes, killings and other atrocities committed by rebels and government troops were ravaging the country.

 As a medical doctor practicing for more than seven years in the DRC, Jean-Jacques’s career was primarily devoted to working with women, children and babies, specializing in obstetrics, pediatrics, and gynecology, but he also saw patients who had HIV and Tuberculosis. He was proud to lead an effort to coordinate public health projects, including training doctors, nurses and community workers in strengthening primary health care in rural and suburban areas of major cities across the DRC. However, due to the heightened conflict, Jean-Jacques was faced with the difficult decision to leave his career and pursue a life in the United States.

He arrived in Seattle in 2013, and not long after, he joined the Washington Army National Guard. This experience provided him with an opportunity to learn a great deal about American culture. As he was immersing himself in American life, he began assisting many of his African friends with medical interpreting. He started doing this so often that a couple of friends suggested that he pursue a career in medical interpreting.

He was intrigued and decided to take the leap. First, he enrolled at Highline College to attain a degree as a Certified Medical Interpreter. Once he received his degree, he became nationally certified as a French and Lingala interpreter from the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS) and was hired at InDemand. Willing to extend his expertise and collaborate with other interpreting institutions, Jean-Jacques is a member of the various organizations such as the American Translators Association (ATA), the National Language Service Corps (NLSC), the Northwest Translators & Interpreting Society (NOTIS), and the National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare (NCIH).

Currently, Jean-Jacques is completing his master degree in Public Health at the University of Washington and wants to use this expertise to further help limited English speaking people.

“Becoming an interpreter for InDemand was not easy,” said Jean-Jacques. “There are stringent training requirements, and you have to understand English, the language that you’re interpreting and also be an expert in medical technology.”

However, the effort was well worth it. Jean-Jacques could not be more excited about his career as an interpreter at InDemand and what the future holds for him in the United States.

“As a doctor, I helped people,” he said. “Now, being an interpreter is a different way of helping. I value my French team. They are all very supportive, and we have the resources we need to hone our skills. English is not my first language, and every day I have the opportunity to work on my English skills. I can pursue classes, collaborate with colleagues, and I receive regular feedback to foster my growth.”

“I think InDemand is an incredible company,” he added. “Now I have found something I enjoy that combines my medical background and allows me to help others. Every day I see what a difference it can make speaking to someone in their native language and the impact it can have on the experience for the patients and the doctors. I certainly feel I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and working at InDemand is my new life.”  

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