How to start out as a medical translator
Thread poster: Tineke Blokzijl - Haar

Tineke Blokzijl - Haar  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:01
English to Dutch
Apr 13, 2004

Hi everyone,

I have recently started out as a freelance translator. I would like to specialize in medical translations. But, where do I begin? So far most jobs I have seen on the internet require experience in the field of medical translations. I don't have any translation experience, but I have worked as a speech therapist in several settings and thus have some experience with medical terminology.

Do you have any tips for me? Books I can read, agencies that do accept starting translators etc. etc.


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truptee  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:31
French to English
+ ...
Some help.. Apr 14, 2004

Here are a few things I came across

1. http://www.benjamins.nl/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=ATA_X

2. www.medword.com/Books/translation.html

3. http://cf.linguistlist.org/cfdocs/new-website/LL-WorkingDirs/pubs/books/get-book.cfm?BookID=728

there are tons and tons of resources on the net.. search google.

All the best!


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 16:01
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
That's a large field indeed Apr 14, 2004

Start with those small leaflets in medicine packages, befriend yourself with a pharmacist and buy a medical dictionary.
Sometimes pharma-related texts are heavily standardized, even more so than patents.
Try to get hold of texts on offer for translation, even if you do not intend to take the job, and try for yourself.
If you know a fellow translator, who does not serve your language pair, but the same target language, he could check your translations if they sound right.
Good luck!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:01
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Just bid for the job and see what happens Apr 14, 2004

If you think you can do a job, bid for it.

Mention that you have 'worked in the health services' or some such phrase that honestly covers the experience you do have, but don't mention not having translation experience. On-the-spot knowledge of the jargon is also convincing.

Between jobs, follow Heinrich's advice, and get hold of medical literature on the Net or wherever you can find it, and note how it is put together. Read the requirements for the particular journals or documents you hope to translate for.

There are books of linguistics and genre analysis etc. but these are quite abstract - to be taken in small, frequent doses.

Keep trying - and best of luck!


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 08:01
English to Russian
+ ...
One more possibility Apr 14, 2004

Dear Tineke,

Among other things, considering the special skills you have you can look on the interpretation side in the same field first. You just might be invaluable as an interpreter for the hospitals and various medical institutions. Many agencies seek those kinds of skills to facilitate communications between doctors and hospital staff on the one hand, and patients and families on the other hand. I do not do it myself, I stay as far from medical subjects as I can:-), but I know many colleagues who do. Also, in the U.S. there are phone interpreters who work on schedule, which you can adjust for your convinience, so on this day you stay at home but must keep the phone line free for the agreed hours and answer phone calls from police, social services, hospitals and provide interpretation in the conference call setting. I do not know if Netherlands has this kind of nationwide service at all and I suspect that the demand in USA is much higher but it is worth checking out. What it is? When police ot paramedics encount someone they can not communicate with, they call the dispatcher and he connects them to the required interpreter on duty.

There are 2 points that make sense here - first, the agencies will get to know your name and you in person, which makes a great difference. Next time when the agency will get the epicrisis of the same patient or even from the same hospital you worked for, for translation, they will call you first, I bet ya:-). Second, you will get experience and will be able to add some hard-earned references respected in the medical world to your resume.

Best of the luck,
Irina


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DocT

Local time: 16:01
English to Romanian
+ ...
contact information Apr 14, 2004

Dear Irene,

I am a doctor and a certified translator of English, Romanian and french. How can I can get in touch with such hospitals as an interpreter? I live in Romania.
Thank you for your kind help.
Lavinia Roman, dalavinia@yahoo.com
IreneN wrote:

Dear Tineke,

Among other things, considering the special skills you have you can look on the interpretation side in the same field first. You just might be invaluable as an interpreter for the hospitals and various medical institutions. Many agencies seek those kinds of skills to facilitate communications between doctors and hospital staff on the one hand, and patients and families on the other hand. I do not do it myself, I stay as far from medical subjects as I can:-), but I know many colleagues who do. Also, in the U.S. there are phone interpreters who work on schedule, which you can adjust for your convinience, so on this day you stay at home but must keep the phone line free for the agreed hours and answer phone calls from police, social services, hospitals and provide interpretation in the conference call setting. I do not know if Netherlands has this kind of nationwide service at all and I suspect that the demand in USA is much higher but it is worth checking out. What it is? When police ot paramedics encount someone they can not communicate with, they call the dispatcher and he connects them to the required interpreter on duty.

There are 2 points that make sense here - first, the agencies will get to know your name and you in person, which makes a great difference. Next time when the agency will get the epicrisis of the same patient or even from the same hospital you worked for, for translation, they will call you first, I bet ya:-). Second, you will get experience and will be able to add some hard-earned references respected in the medical world to your resume.

Best of the luck,
Irina



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Monique Laville  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:01
Italian to French
+ ...
Hope these can be useful Apr 15, 2004

Numerous links to medical glossaries:
Medical glossaries

The Merck manual (in english). I find it very interesting:
Merck Manual


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Jonathan Spector  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 16:01
Member
Hebrew to English
My first medical translation Apr 15, 2004

Tineke, I just did my first medical translation. I actually asked for the job in order to give it to my doctor, who dabbles in translation, but he suggested that I do it and he would edit the work. It came out great, a very successful union. I did the best I could, then saw the edited version, which should propel me to the next job. Good luck!

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