Interpreter of the Month: Thomas

Thomas Johnston is a jack of all trades at Affordable Language Services. As Interpreting Operations Manager, Thomas is the guy in charge of the day to day operations in the interpreting department. He actively oversees the handling of over 1100 interpreter requests per month for over 120 languages, from a pool of over 500 local interpreters. (Eesh!)

If that wasn’t enough, Thomas is also the Hiring and Training Manager here. He finds, processes and trains new talent, and organizes ongoing training for our existing interpreters. In Client Services, Thomas represents our company in networking meetings, and work related activities in the community. He also finds himself out in the field doing Judiciary interpreting when we receive a request that cannot be filled with a qualified or experienced interpreter.

Somewhere in between all of that Thomas found time to become a Certified Healthcare Interpreter Professional through CCHI!

We decided to ask Thomas a few questions about his recent certification.

What’s the certification process like?

It was quick for me because I already had several things working to my advantage, such as the years of experience and having completed the minimum required 40 hour medical interpreter training a while ago. Thus, in my case it was a matter of registering for the exam, taking the written, and then the somewhat “nerve wracking” oral evaluation.

What are the most challenging aspects of interpreting? What are the most rewarding?

Being able to close the cultural gap between the Limited English Speaker and the service provider. Being bilingual is just one aspect of becoming an efficient interpreter. There are many other skills an individual needs to acquire to be able to render an accurate interpretation of any given encounter.

The most rewarding sessions for me are those from which I walk away having being unnoticed during the encounter. That means my rendition was outstanding, and to the satisfaction of all the individuals involved in it.

Why is HIPAA compliance important?

Because it brings awareness to those individuals involved in healthcare, to the laws and regulations in place.

Be on the look-out; next month we’ll profile another member of the ALS team.

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