The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI)

In this issue:

From Our Chair


Dear friends and colleagues:

I really hope that by the time you read this note, the majority of face-to-face interpreters working out there are fully vaccinated. As soon as the vaccination process was announced nationwide the NBCMI joined efforts with the American Translators Association (ATA) and many other institutions to publicly "urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explicitly include on-site medical interpreters among the listed examples of health care personnel (HCP) eligible for Phase 1 vaccinations, and to include on-site interpreters in other settings (community interpreting, educational interpreting, state and local government offices, court and interpreters in legal or administrative law settings) among 'other essential workers' per the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)". Despite the lack of mandate, I know for a fact that many major Healthcare systems had included Staff Medical Interpreters in their vaccination efforts. That is a relief, but I still wonder how many Interpreters are working without vaccination access, risking their own health and the health of their family. The good news is that States Public Health departments around the nation are moving toward opening vaccination to the general public by May 1st, let's keep our fingers crossed.

A friend of mine called a few days ago, saying that after one year of separation and because all of us in our FB group are already vaccinated, she's planning a get-together to celebrate the arrival of Spring. I'm not sure what to think. My husband has a chronic pulmonary condition and, sadly, like many around the world, our family had been devastated by the loss of loved ones and others seriously ill, and we are still praying for their recovery. Like many others, I started searching for answers from the experts on top questions such as when can you stop wearing a mask, eat inside a restaurant, travel, go to sporting events and concerts, and freely visit friends and family. In summary, their recommendations are that, despite vaccinations, keep wearing the mask and keep social distancing. Neither being vaccinated or having recovered from CovidCOVID-19 guarantee not being infected or reinfected. I cannot avoid thinking about influenza, how many cases we've seen that even after the vaccination still getting seriously ill with Influenza? Everyone is different and responds differently, not to mention virus mutations and variants. And what about silent carriers? At the moment, it is unclear whether being vaccinated means that you're no longer a carrier of coronavirus.

It will be better to think of a face mask and social distancing as our best friends, ones that we should be planning to cherish and appreciate for a good, long time. Now more than ever we can really appreciate the benefit of virtual events, webinars, and online testing. Though we miss the warmth of personal interactions that we used to take for granted, we have the opportunity to keep in touch, network, keep participating, learning, and growing from the safety of our home or office. And the National Board sincerely appreciates all interpreters that keep enrolling in our CMI and Hub-CMI programs amid the pandemic, energizing us to work harder to offer more and better for a deserving community. Until next time my friends and colleagues, keep on keeping yourselves and your love-ones safe, and getting certified and re-certified by the National Board to boost your qualifications.

Xiomara Armas, CMI, BSBA, NBCMI Chair

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the critical role of medical and ASL interpreters in helping bridge communications barriers faced by patients accessing health care services.

Lisa Morris, Director, Cross-Cultural Initiatives at Commonwealth Medicine




Are you passionate about advancing the medical interpreting profession?

We invite you to present your application to join the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI).


For more information and how to apply please visit:



Vaccination Information and Guidelines

The National Board has compiled the following information that we hope you find helpful. We acknowledge that not everyone wishes to #getthejab. But in any case, someone else may find this information helpful and we hope that everyone can find common ground in that.

Here is an article by U.S.News published on April 12th 2021 "Who Is Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine in Your State?"

Here is some information from the CDC, guidelines for those that have been vaccinated.

"As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, uncertainty exists for individuals who are trying to get pregnant or pregnant. At the University of Massachusetts Medical School – Baystate, a group of experts (the Shared Decision-Making: COVID Vaccination in Pregnancy working group), created a decision aid to help individuals who are pregnant, lactating, or planning on becoming pregnant decide whether or not to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. These decision aids, currently available in 10 languages, will be updated on this post as more information."

The National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare (NCIHC) is conducting a survey Impact of COVID-19 on Working Healthcare Interpreters in the U.S. We encourage our CMI's to take the survey, share the link and encourage others to do the same.

For those wanting to get the COVID vaccine but are having difficulty locating a vaccination site, there is VaccineFinder. VaccineFinder helps you find clinics, pharmacies, and other locations that offer COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. In some states, information is limited while more providers and pharmacies update locations in the coming weeks. COVID-19 vaccine availability is limited, and appointments are required at most locations. Unfortunately, this is not a multilingual site.

This next site, however, is multilingual. With all the misinformation out there, it is helpful to know that the CDC has a hub for obtaining information about facts and myths about the COVID-19 vaccines.


Meet Our Scholarship Recipients

The National Board would like to acknowledge and introduce our 2020 scholarship recipients. But we're not stopping here! Soon, the NBCMI will be launching a series of interviews where you get to hear from the scholarship recipients: their story, their journey to certification, and their experience during the process. Stay tuned for more on this series and many more!

Meet Olina Ruban, future Russian CMI. Ms. Ruban is one of our scholarship winners from the Western Region. In her essay, Ms. Ruban writes about her interpreting experience during the pandemic. The eerily quiet clinics, her concern for her safety; something we all experienced. But it was this statement in her essay which set her apart "There is a Russian proverb saying, 'Alone you cannot lift a stone, but together we can move a town'. I see these extraordinary times as an opportunity for us to come together like never before, build our resilience as a community and show that we care about each other and the places in which we live."
Here we have another one of our scholarship recipients, Lisa Yung. Ms. Yung is also from the Western Region and a future Mandarin CMI. In her essay, Ms. Yung details her mother's struggle with language access and how she, Ms. Yung, took that experience and turned it into a driving force in her career in interpreting; volunteering as an interpreter at the Harriet Buhai Law Center, interpreting for women who are victims of domestic violence. She also recounts "As a Chinese medical interpreter during the Covid-19 pandemic, I saw that it began as a tense time for everyone, especially for Asians when xenophobic sentiment spread among the public. Despite concerns about my own health and safety, I continued to complete on-site medical interpretation assignments. If I did not continue to provide interpretation for patients who needed it, their appointments would have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely."
Now let's introduce you to Mariana Freitez, one of our scholarship recipients from the Midwest Region and future Spanish CMI. Ms. Freitez explains in her essay, what many on-site interpreters lived through. "After many years working in-person with our patients, suddenly we were sent home without explanation. The mixture of feelings that existed at the beginning was indescribable." And just like many on-site interpreters, she had to shift to and learn new technology on the fly. Working remotely became the norm for many across many professions. Of course, this new reality affected on-site interpreters particularly hard as their means of service delivery came to a screeching halt. With grit and determination, Mariana, the core of interpreters at Michigan Medicine and their leadership, made it possible to learn a new way and secure jobs and stability. "Our OPI and VRI numbers are getting better each month." This is a testament to what many on-site, staff interpreters faced and overcame.
Switching gears and introducing Rebecca McComb, one of our scholarship recipients for the Midwest Region and future CMI-Mandarin. "For me, one day I was completing a long list of interpreting sessions and moving from hospital building to hospital building on a daily rotating basis. The next day, interpreters were not allowed to enter the hospitals and there were suddenly no more live sessions to be covered. At first, I was very unsettled. I had just begun to achieve a feeling of success in this new role of Medical Interpreter into which I had recently retrained as an entirely new phase of my professional life." Rebecca's experience is one of many who also felt blindsided by the pandemic. She goes on to describe how her pre-pandemic an pandemic experiences shaped her, molded her outlook and disposition.
Switching gears and regions, meet Andrew Lim, one of our scholarship recipients from the Southwest Region and future CMI-Korean. In his essay, Andrew describes what he and many interpreters call the true calling of medical interpreters. "As a medical interpreter, we are the bridge of communication between the medical provider and the patient who has limited English proficiency. We are the voice of them. The role of the interpreter is to deliver every message exactly as it is from the provider to the patient, and vice versa. Sometimes, it should go beyond that, though. In addition to accuracy and transparency as a conduit, we should serve as a cultural broker between them."
Our second scholarship recipient from the Southwest Region is Sandra Foster, future CMI-Spanish. Sandra's contribution to the effort is different from most interpreters during the pandemic. She explains, "I have been doing medical translations and translating clinical trials for many years now so since COVID I've been translating for pharmaceutical companies working on anti COVID vaccine. This is one way I feel I'm contributing to the solution to this pandemic." And that's not all. Sandra has also continued to provide interpreter services for children who need physical, occupational, and, or speech therapy via Zoom or Meets, for Spanish speaking restaurant employees and childcare workers who look after the children of frontline workers. She has also interpreted during critical talks between the Spanish speaking restaurant employees and childcare workers who look after the children of frontline workers and the City of Albuquerque and state officials as they worked to pass a bill that would allow these workers to ear and get paid sick leave. As if this wasn't enough, "Once a month I interpret via Zoom for the Spanish speaking parents of kids with Autism at the University of New Mexico Hospital and I translate all the material for those meetings beforehand." says Ms. Foster.
Now to the Southeast Region and our first scholarship recipient and future CMI-Spanish, Alec Jotte. Alec works full-time with Conexión Américas, a Nashville-based Latinx non-profit which partners with the Metro Public Health Department to staff the city’s official Spanish-speaking COVID-19 resource and relief hotline and is the manager Conexión Américas’ COVID-19 emergency relief efforts and supervises the new COVID-19 hotline staff. Prior to this, Mr. Jotte worked as a volunteer at COVID-19 drive-thru testing center in Shreveport where he provided nonclinical assistance and Spanish interpretation. He recounts an instance where he provided his services to an elderly woman "I recall with acute clarity one elderly woman who approached our testing site slowly and cracked her window cautiously. Very timidly, she asked in Spanish if anyone spoke Spanish at our testing site. I responded in Spanish letting her know I would be happy to interpret for her, and she broke down crying in the sheer relief that she would be able to understand what was happening."
We move now to the Northeast Region. Introducing first, Ms. Ashley Soto. soon to be Ashley Soto, CMI-Spanish. Like many interpreters, Ashely was also a child interpreter and draws from that experience and sees the parallels between her parents and the LEP community she serves. Ashley writes "Now that I work as a medical interpreter assisting LEPs, I feel like I am making a difference in this world, especially when I see my own parents reflected in my clients. I feel that I am also serving frontline workers to the best of my ability and that I am doing my part in combating the global pandemic in my little state of Rhode Island." And, like many of us did at the beginning of the pandemic; "When the pandemic first hit, I remember that I used to watch every single video and read every single article I could find on the subject of COVID-19. As the numbers kept growing and reaching across continents and hitting areas closer to home, I was studying and staying up to date on the latest information released. My goal was to know everything: causes, symptoms, side effects, everything. I wanted to ensure I’d be performing my job to the best of my ability. I didn't realize that in doing so, I was choosing to be at the frontlines. I was preparing to join the fight with my colleagues."
Last but certainly not least, we introduce our second scholarship recipient in the Northeast Region, Delia Stafford and soon to be CMI-Spanish. In her essay, Ms. Stafford summarizes it quite well. "Medical interpreters create an essential bridge of communication between the medical team and non-English speaking patients. We are the patient's voices. I am proud to call myself a medical interpreter." She adds, "Imagine you were learning to use a parachute, but your instructor spoke a different language. Since there is no room for error, you would likely choose to have clear instructions given in a language you understand. The same is true for healthcare services. You want all the instructions and information in a language you can understand." This was the reality for LEP's and providers, no in-person appointments and a rapid deployment of technology which staff may or not be familiar with and no immediate way of providing such information to the LEP community. Given the reality for LEP's, with the pandemic limitations and technology adjustments, interpreters, like Ms. Stafford, whole teams of interpreters, translators, and resource sharing helped improve this situation for the limited English proficient community.


Virtual Happenings

In case you were wondering, here are some of the places where the NBCMI has been this year.

In case you haven't heard!

CHIA's Virtual Video Library for the our 2021 conference is now available!

There are 19 educational sessions as well as the opening ceremony, keynote panel and closing ceremony.

Applicable CCHI, IMIA/NBCMI and RID continuing education credits are listed in each session description. Go to www.chiaonline.org for details.

MATI Webinar Series 2021
Translation and Interpreting Since the Onset of COVID-19



On Thursday, April 23rd we celebrated Earth Day
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed."
Mahatma Gandhi, lawyer and ethicist
Let us work together to make the Earth a better place. Happy Earth Day!

Happy National Volunteer's Week! National Volunteers Week was celebrated April 18th - 24th. Thank you to all volunteers but especially OUR volunteers at the #NBCMI. Without you advancing our mission, we would not be where we are. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


While all life lost during the coronavirus pandemic is invaluable, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) will be highlighting the names of U.S. Medical & Healthcare Interpreters who have passed away after battling the virus:

Dulce Garcia
Dahir Ahmed
Tuan "Archie" Nguyen
Freddy Robles
David Vazquez
Policarpo Chaj

This list will be updated regularly. If you would like to add a fallen medical and healthcare interpreter to this list, please email:
[email protected]

To read more about the lives of these heroes, please visit



Interesting Articles

Stronger Brain Activity After Writing on Paper Than on Tablet or Smartphone

Summary: Writing by hand increases brain activity in recall tasks over taking notes on a tablet or smartphone. Additionally, those who write by hand on paper are 25% quicker at note-taking tasks than those who use digital technology.

Source: University of Tokyo


The Amazing Brain of the Real-Time Interpreters

Awesome article published November 18th, 2014. "The world’s most powerful computers can’t perform accurate real-time interpreting of one language to another. Yet human interpreters do it with ease."


"Subtitle translation is a fascinating, complicated, and often overlooked part of the filmmaking process."

It’s a delicate dance of literal translation and cultural interpretation, all the while practicing a serious economy of words. Most subtitles are capped at only forty-four characters (less than this sentence). Plus, the eye reads much slower than the ear hears.


Meet the Sign Language Artist Interpreting BTS Songs for Deaf Fans


"Her videos for BTS songs like 'ON' and 'Dynamite' are part interpretation, part choreographed performance. Music, as the saying goes, is a universal language. But while songs can cross borders, they’re still mostly inaccessible to one group — the deaf and hard of hearing. Knowing this, sign language artist Saori Fujimoto is now using sign language to bring K-pop hits to more people."


The Right to an Interpreter
By Kirsten Ballard

In the United States, an estimated 25 million Americans—8 percent of the population—are Limited English Proficient, or LEP, meaning they are not fluent in English.

Studies show that LEP individuals face disproportionately negative health outcomes, including high rates of medical errors. And while there are laws and policies protecting those who face language barriers when seeking health care-from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—they don’t offer full protections and both providers and patients aren’t necessarily aware of them.


Thank you for reading!!

We'd love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Please send us a note at:
[email protected]