Essential Requirements for the Proficient Medical Translator
By: Salman Saeed
Translation services are one of the most sought-after types of services in this rapidly advancing digital age. As companies seek global grounds for expansion, availing of professional and accurate translation services is the need of the hour. Translation for the medical industry is also one of the most critical but highly necessary translations, mainly owing to the complexities involved in the translation.
A medical translation is not only concerned with the translation of medical files and patient reports. It also includes correct and accurate translation of complex medical terminology. Due to the sensitive nature of the medical translation, the medical translators responsible for this translation need to have the proper qualifications and skills to undertake the tasks at hand.
But what are the requirements for the perfect medical translator? More importantly, who is a medical translator? Let us find out.
Who is a Medical Translator?
A medical translator is a qualified linguist or a translator who is responsible for accurate and professional medical translation. The translation of medical content requires absolute precision and accuracy, be it the patient case files, product information booklet, or any drug packaging information.
A medical translator may be required to translate complex documents such as clinical trials, clinical protocols, drug production manuals, pharmacological material, standard operating procedures, scientific journal articles, and regulatory documents. It is the responsibility of the medical translator to translate these documents with ultimate precision, accuracy, and professionalism. The reason for being extra precise in medical translation is simple–any error or mistranslation can have life-threatening consequences for patients.
In addition, some of the common clients of medical translators are pharmaceutical businesses, healthcare executives, and clinical research groups (CROs). Customers expect error-free documents and precise translation of all medical jargon so that no inconvenience is caused in the process of translation.
Requirements for a Medical Translator
Below are some requirements for a medical translator:
1. Sound medical knowledge
This is probably one of the most important requirements for a medical translator. A person needs technical knowledge as well as medical expertise to be able to translate medical documents and files. This is because a translator who does not have sound medical knowledge will not understand the complex and difficult medical jargon and terminology. In addition, aspiring medical translators should also be familiar with the country’s regulations they are working in. Several countries have passed strict laws that govern the approval of medicines and medical treatments. Moreover, thousands of medical phrases are used in the medical sector that are rarely interchangeable. Any error in translation by a person who has insufficient medical knowledge may cause delays for patients and a refusal by government authorities to allow certain drugs to be sold in markets.
2. Translation skills
The foremost job of a medical translator is to handle complex and lengthy medical translation tasks that may be of a complicated nature. Since the medical translator has to read through the sources before undertaking the translation task, he must be able to communicate with all the concerned stakeholders in translation services. While it is preferable to have fluency in more than one language, a thorough understanding of medical terms and jargon is a must.
In order to effectively handle the final translation before handing it to the client, a medical translator should have the ability to handle challenging and time-consuming translation projects, as well as knowledge of medical terminology.
Translator certifications are essential elements in ensuring accurate and professional translation services. This is why these certifications have true value for a medical translator. Any certifications that a medical translator holds are proof that the translator possesses an in-depth knowledge of medical terms and phrases. Moreover, these certifications also guarantee an absolute understanding of medical terms’ usage, which is the key to becoming a good translator.
The certifications that a medical translator may have include at least a high school graduation certificate and any other academic degree to support his skills. It is preferable that a translator have a bachelor’s degree in medical translation or a certification from an authoritative medical body.
In addition, before working as a medical translator, a person requires medical certification from the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (CMI) in order to prove his proficiency.
4. Ample Experience
The translation industry as well as the translation tasks require that translators have experience translating complex documents. This need for experience is amplified in the medical translation process, which is complex but sensitive.
A medical translator must have ample experience translating medical files, documents, and software. He should preferably have handled translation projects previously. This experience will ensure no error occurs during translation and that no little detail is omitted during the translation process.
How to Be a Better Medical Translator?
The above criteria highlight the requirements that a medical translator must have in order to handle medical translation projects. But there are some ways that a medical translator can hone his translation skills further:
- Investing in medical books and journals can increase medical knowledge and expertise further
- Start small and try to focus on one category of medical translation. For example, if you are a beginner in medical translation, it makes sense to delve into non-critical areas such as translating product information or medical summaries
- Look into translating marketing documents for medicine or medical device manufacturers. As you become more familiar with the medical terminology, you can work your way up to more complex documents.
- Work with NGOs as it may be a challenge for beginner-level translators to get a job in a reputed medical translation agency. The reason is that there are certain requirements of a medical translation agency concerning absolute precision and accuracy. Working with an NGO may add some experience to your resume and allow you to better handle translation projects.
- Research and learn as much as you can. Learning more about the medical industry will allow you to handle complex medical translations in a better way.
A medical translator is a person who handles complex medical translation projects. Owing to the complexity of medical translation projects, it is imperative that a medical translator fulfill certain requirements, such as sound knowledge, experience, and certifications. Fulfilling these requirements may result in better handling of complex medical tasks and projects and an error-free translation.