Medical Translator - MD or not MD?
Thread poster: Yana Onikiychuk

Yana Onikiychuk  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:51
English to Russian
+ ...
Jan 12, 2012

Dear colleagues,

I'm asking for your help. I'm a medical translator, and I'm running a small research in Medical Translation.

Would you be so kind to answer following questions:

1) Do you have any medical/health-care related background?
2) Do you mind of having one if you are a primary linguistic specialist?
3) What are the main difficulties you are facing when translating medical content (here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators without medical background)?
4) Do you translated only Medicine, or you have broadened your specialization (and here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators with primary medical background)?
5) Which translator/interpreter in your opinion performs with better quality in this field - MD with some linguistic experience or Linguist, specializing in medical translations?

Any comments are highly welcomed!

Many thanks for your time!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sibylle de Schmidt  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:51
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
My answers Jan 12, 2012

1) Do you have any medical/health-care related background?
Not MD but medical related
2) Do you mind of having one if you are a primary linguistic specialist?
No
3) What are the main difficulties you are facing when translating medical content (here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators without medical background)?
Research into very different content, especially instruments
4) Do you translated only Medicine, or you have broadened your specialization (and here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators with primary medical background)?
I started with more than one specialisation
5) Which translator/interpreter in your opinion performs with better quality in this field - MD with some linguistic experience or Linguist, specializing in medical translations?
I think specialisation first, then language skills


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Agris Koppel  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:51
English to Estonian
+ ...
I am MD Jan 12, 2012

1) Do you have any medical/health-care related background? YES

4) Do you translated only Medicine, or you have broadened your specialization (and here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators with primary medical background)?
Currently I have translated medical and very little broadened my topics (biology).

5) Which translator/interpreter in your opinion performs with better quality in this field - MD with some linguistic experience or Linguist, specializing in medical translations?
I think that MD is better, as linguistic work can be done by someone else, but Linguist cannot study all the "context" of 6 and more years studies within some days.

With best regards,
Agris


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Claudia Brauer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:51
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
MD linguist vs linguist with healthcare knowledge Jan 12, 2012

1) Do you have any medical/health-care related background? No and yes. No "career" in the field (no MD or RN or similar), yes, 15 years of experience as a translator/interpreter and project manager and administrator

2) Do you mind of having one if you are a primary linguistic specialist? [The question is not asked correctly... what is the question again?]

3) What are the main difficulties you are facing when translating medical content (here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators without medical background)? The problems most individuals who do not have a medical background and try translating or interpreting in a healthcare setting are, in my opinion: (1) lack of understanding of "how" each of the body systems works and what are the most common "failures" (2) lack of understanding of "how" doctors and other professionals assess symptoms and arrive at conclusions about possible illnesses (i.e., "why" so many questions are asked) (3) lack of understanding of the critical importance of absolute accuracy in the transfer of content into target language (i.e., the absolute need to avoid omissions, modifications, and errors of interpretation) (4) the need to understand that translation/interpreting in healthcare system requires special customer service skills (5) the need for patience and understanding as a core requirement, especially the interpreter.

4) Do you translated [sic] only Medicine, or you have broadened [sic] your specialization (and here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators with primary medical background)? Very broad background BEFORE entering the healthcare industry.... then started specializing in healthcare

5) Which translator/interpreter in your opinion performs with better quality in this field - MD with some linguistic experience or Linguist, specializing in medical translations? For translation (written), I would guess MD would have the better technical expertise, provided the MD is REALLY a linguist and REALLY understands the internal mechanisms of translation [translation is not only a technical profession, it requires artistic abilities for appropriate conveyance of subtext, not only the "words"). In terms of interpreting, the MD must have a large amount of other non-technical related qualities as interpreting, again, is far from being "just" a technical profession. So, if the MD has all the abilities and skills of an interpreter, then of course, the technical knowledge would make him/her a preferred linguist. However, the fact that the MD knows the technical portion better than a "normal" linguist does NOT in itself make him/her a better interpreter, because a large amount of non-technical skills are needed in the interpreting setting.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:51
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I am primarily a translator Jan 14, 2012

1) Do you have any medical/health-care related background?
I worked for a time in the local healthcare service for patients at home, and originally wanted to read medicine, but did not get into medical school. (Probably a good thing, as I would not have been a good doctor.)

2) Do you mind of having one if you are a primary linguistic specialist?
If you mean do I intend to take a medical qualification, no. The main focus is on treating patients, and very different from the language training for translation. I read some of the same books as medical students, but would not spend the time learning how to deal with patients.

I did train as a technical librarian originally, specialising in analysing and abstracting life-science and medical texts, and more recently I took a module of my translation diploma specialising in medical translation, focusing on the differences and similarities in terminology, cultures, use of medical Latin and so on, and writing for different target groups (e.g. healthcare professionals and students or patients and their relatives etc.).

3) What are the main difficulties you are facing when translating medical content (here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators without medical background)?
Understanding unusual abbreviations and the very compact style of writing used in medical records of hospital treatment. The Latin is no big problem if it is correct, but each doctor apparently has his/her own style, and it is sometimes a foreign language for them too! (I studied Latin for several years at school and have some of the medical Latin textbooks, so the correct forms are less difficult for me.) Occasionally whole sentences are reduced to a few initial letters, and when medical staff use their own short forms instead of the standard ones, even their colleagues have trouble understanding them. It may be easier for a professional to work out what is meant than for a linguist.
Surgical descriptions are often difficult, as they are sometimes highly descriptive, and here a little practical experience might help.
Not all doctors are linguists or skilled writers, or they have too little time to write notes clearly.

4) Do you translated only Medicine, or you have broadened your specialization (and here I'm particularly interested in answers from translators with primary medical background)?
I translate a very wide range of texts besides medicine, but spend about half my time on medical work.

5) Which translator/interpreter in your opinion performs with better quality in this field - MD with some linguistic experience or Linguist, specializing in medical translations?
Quality is very hard to define, unless you give more details, and it may depend on who will read and use the translation.
A translator needs a thorough knowledge of both languages, the terminology and the culture. Many of the Danish doctors who write the texts I translate have studied abroad, and/or are accustomed to reading English. A number can also write well, and might be able to translate well, but as I mentioned above, some cannot.

Just as it is most important for a doctor to be able to treat patients, including communicating with them and with colleagues, it is most important for a translator to understand both languages.
I don't think a lot of 'hands on' medical experience is necessary to be a good translator. They are two different, highly demanding professions, and many people will not have the time to master both. Some certainly do, but it is important to master whichever field you are working in, so sometimes a linguist will be better. A linguist need not be a surgeon, for instance, just as a good surgeon is not necessarily a good linguist.

I do not think you can make a rule and say 'doctors are better' or 'translators are better'. Both must study the special aspects of medical language and understand the subject matter thoroughly too. Probably the ideal situation is to have a linguist to translate, and a medical professional to proofread and check the results.

Just my two cents...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Yana Onikiychuk  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:51
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Big thanks... Jan 16, 2012

... to all respondents!
The points you've noted are very important, especially on mastership in the profession, no matter medical or linguistic, and on difficulties to combine them both (thanks to Christine).

to Claudia:
"2) Do you mind of having one if you are a primary linguistic specialist? [The question is not asked correctly... what is the question again?]"
Were there any moments in your career when you regret not having medical background while translating/interpreting medicine? Of course, I can not offer any translator to go to medical school to feel free in the context, we are all busy professionals, but my point is would it be possible to study medicine (abridged) for translation to such level independently, when one will not regret that (s)he doesn't have an academical education. Hope this makes my question a little bit less clumsy

to Christine:
"I took a module of my translation diploma specialising in medical translation, focusing on the differences and similarities in terminology, cultures, use of medical Latin and so on, and writing for different target groups"
Do you have any publications on this topic? This should be very interesting. Thank you!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Yana Onikiychuk  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:51
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
New turn Oct 24, 2012

This poll turned into a study on medical translation, and we already have preliminary results available.
You can check on PPT, presented with study results this year at Interpreting the Future Conference in Berlin, on my website www.onikiychuk.com.

Also there is an article published as a guest post in GxP Language Services http://gxplanguageservices.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/guest-post-translating-with-and-without-medical-background-a-retrospective-study/

And for those of you who can read Russian, you can follow the discussion on Russian translation forum
http://trworkshop.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=52754&p=862138#p862138

I'll be happy for your comments/feedback.

Yana


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Medical Translator - MD or not MD?

Advanced search







SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search