Congolese doctor serves as medical interpreter in Kirksville

With the population of the Congolese community only growing, it is important for each of us to welcome them to the Kirksville family. With language and culture being alien to the Congolese, Doctor Bobette Nzuzi has done exemplary work acting as a link between the medical centers and the Congolese population.

After 10 years of hard work, Nzuzi earned her medical license in the Congo and practiced medicine for six years there. Nzuzi came from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United States in 2014 by participating in the Diversity Visa Lottery. With a wish to give a better life to her two children and husband, she now works as a medical interpreter at the Northeast Missouri Health Council since November 20, 2017.

As a doctor, it is important to have a passion for helping others. Nzuzi, fluent in French and English, is able to help Congolese patients understand the different procedures and care being offered to them, while also translating questions to their caregivers.

“My favorite part of being a medical interpreter is helping a provider to help patients,” Nzuzi said. “Also, helping patients understand the healthcare and understand the provider is important.”

Doctor Nzuzi was recognized by French professor Sana Camara for her model workmanship in both the medical and Congolese communities. Camara said members from the Congolese community used to ask him for help in translating. Now that Nzuzi has been acting as an interpreter, Camara said she has become someone for the Congolese community to look up to because of her passion for what she does.

“She and her husband are the first to be kind of connected in medical work, and the other in agricultural work, you know,” Camara said. “I think she makes them comfortable and they know how to talk to her as a lady in the OB/GYN office. That’s why I thought she could serve as a model for the Congolese to show that hope is still alive.”

Camara said it’s important for members of the Kirksville community to be able to understand and help others through the culture shock of arriving in an entirely different world. Camara said he has already heard of two instances of Nzuzi recommending patients for emergent care, which may have never happened if not for her help.

Every time Camara took someone to the medical center, Nzuzi was already there trying to help. With a knowledge of both Congolese culture and American culture, Camara said she does a wonderful job at helping people feel at home.

“I think that she has been a very personable person,” Camara said. “She’s compassionate from what I hear people say. Doctor Stocks can confirm that she’s very professional and is an easy person to talk to. She truly cares for her community.”

Since Nzuzi had a license to practice medicine in the Congo, she has been working hard to receive her medical license to practice in the United States. She said there are several comprehensive tests to take, and she would like to pursue her license after she improves her English.

Nzuzi said understanding that the two cultures are very different is an important part of her position and it can sometimes be difficult to communicate effectively; however, she doesn’t let this get in the way of what she loves: Being a part of the community and helping others.

“Why do I want to practice medicine?” Nzuzi asked, “It’s because I love medicine and helping people.”

Travis Maiden is a senior communication major and Staff Writer at Truman Media Network.