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Health Information In My Own Words: Hospital Stay Abroad Inspired Interpreting Career

From gunshot victim to interpreter at Rush, Ricardo Kirgan shares his story.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Interpreter Services at Rush University Medical Center, Ricardo Kirgan wrote a post for the Rush InPerson blog about the life-altering experience that led him to change careers in his late 30s and become a language interpreter. The following is an excerpt from his post:

In 2005 while living abroad, I was the victim of an assault in which I received gunshot wounds to the wrist and the chest. While recovering, I was hospitalized for six weeks at a large teaching hospital very similar to Rush. Every morning, between 6:30 and 10:30 a.m., I was interviewed by a steady stream of students, residents, surgeons, pulmonologists, physical and occupational ther apists and nurses.

I remember how difficult it was to understand and absorb all the information that I was getting from the medical team. Although I spoke Spanish well at that time, my lack of familiarity with medical terminology coupled with the seriousness of my injuries left me wishing I’d had an interpreter myself. That experience made me wonder what people in the United States with limited English proficiency (LEP) did when seeking health care. If it was difficult for me, I could only imagine how overw helming it must be for LEP patients in the United States. A few years later, when my wife and I decided to move back to the United States, it was the memory of that experience that inspired me to pursue a career as a medical interpreter.

Read the rest of Ricardo Kirgan’s post to learn about how he and his fellow interpreters are helping limited English proficiency patients at Rush receive the best possible care.


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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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