Graduates of CNM: Carolina Sanchez

Carolina earned a Spanish Interpreter certificate and now works full-time at UNM Hospital where she helps a variety of patients and providers
August 31, 2021

Every day is different for Carolina Sanchez, a Spanish Interpreter at UNM Hospital. Sometimes she helps Spanish-speaking patients communicate with doctors and nurses in a clinic. Other times she’s with Spanish-speaking patients in the emergency room. 

This variety is challenging but also fulfilling.

“I feel really good overall because I get to help a lot of people,” she says. “My work helps them get the care they need, but it also helps them feel noticed and allows them to know that they have communicated in a clear way to their provider, and then they feel understood.”

Carolina learned about the interpreter job while she was completing her Spanish Interpreter certificate at CNM where students can specialize in interpretation in a legal, healthcare, or community setting. She had enrolled in the program to further her career after running a small translation business out of her home. She chose to go into the healthcare field because her father was a doctor in Mexico and she has always felt comfortable in that setting. 

At CNM, Carolina says she worked hard and learned a lot. Even though she had previous experience with translations, interpretation was much different. She struggled with the simultaneous interpretation where she was tasked with interpreting in real time as one of her subjects talked. 

“I thought I was never going to be able to master that skill, but eventually I got better thanks to a lot of practice and a lot of help from my instructors,” she says. 

In the hospital, the primary mode of Carolina’s interpretation is consecutive, where one subject (the patient, provider, or family member) speaks a full thought and then she renders the message into the target language. She likes this style because it allows for dialogue interpreting.

“I like being able to give everyone the autonomy they need to communicate, and then I can be the conduit,” she says. 

As you can imagine, the job can be challenging. Carolina was trained on how to deal with complicated medical terms, but she still runs into words or situations that need extra explaining. 

“I actually like this part of the job, because as the interpreter I get to learn new vocabulary everyday,” she says.

She’s faced many difficult situations as well. 

“An end of life interpretation can be stressful, and it’s also hard when I have to interpret for parents who have a sick child. I have children as well so I relate to the parents,” she says.  

Going forward, Carolina plans to get her national interpreter certification and looks forward to helping as many patients as possible. 

"I love it here at UNMH and I’m excited about my job every single day,” she says.

Learn more about the Spanish Interpreter program here