It’s easy to see why every medical translator must be a skilled professional. They help in situations when doctors and patients don’t share the same language. Since this communication gap can lead to poor medical diagnosis, wrong treatment, and even fatalities, medical translators must have certain skills to render accurate translations.
In this blog, we discuss 5 of the most basic and essential skills for a translator to deliver professional medical translation services. You can identify skills you already have proficiency in and the ones you need to improve.
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Excellent understanding of source language
Similar to other translation fields, certified medical translation services call for an excellent understanding of the source language. This is because you will convey the right message only when you understand it properly in the source text.
As you want to become a medical translator, I assume your source language understanding is already good. Even if it’s not, there are ways to improve it.
For example, immersion is an effective way to improve it. You get yourself settled in the source language country for an elongated period. This enables you to understand source texts like natives do.
In case you can’t move to the relevant country, then the easy way is to get access to foreign language resources on the web. These could be any professional language courses, podcasts, videos, blogs, films, and more. Similarly, you can read fictional and non-fictional content in your subject matter, which will enhance your source language comprehension at all levels.
Sharp writing skills in the target language
Clients partner with a translator who is a native speaker of the target language. So, ideally, you would be converting texts into your mother tongue. As a native speaker, you might assume your target language writing to be top-notch.
However, if you’re switching your career from fields like healthcare and science, then probably you would have to work on your writing skills. This is because healthcare professionals and scientists aren’t well-known for their writing abilities.
If that’s the case, you may need to improve your existing knowledge or abilities in grammar, punctuation, writing style, tone, etc., You may also need to learn how to write in a clear and precise manner. Additionally, getting better at technical writing could be on your priority list too.
In-depth knowledge of the subject matter
The job of a medical translator is quite challenging. You might be tasked with anything from medical reports and patient history to clinical research materials, medical dictionary localization, and more. Therefore, rendering accurate translation results becomes difficult.
For this reason, experts suggest you should specialize in one or two subject areas. Having specialized knowledge will allow you to deliver the best outcomes in a flawless manner.
The specialization is also essential because different genres in the medical field might have different styles, terminology, and format. So, you need a great level of dedication, hard work, and effort to exhibit mastery in a specific subject matter. Which eventually leads you to secure a high-paying role at a medical localization company or freelance translation platforms.
A good cultural and regulatory awareness
Good medical translators are the ones who understand the cultures of different target markets, languages, and countries. Your translation will correctly deliver what was said in the source text if you’re aware of the cultural nuances and subtleties of the target culture.
This is important because mentioning a certain thing might be considered taboo in certain places. When you know the ins and outs of their culture, you keep your translation away from taboo subjects. Or you come up with another way to convey the same thing but using different words that resonate with that culture.
Becoming a good medical translator also requires awareness of different government laws and regulations. This is a fundamental requirement when you have to provide regulatory translation services to clients.
In regulatory translation, the content is subject to various regulatory standards. As a translator, your job is to meet those requirements so that clients can get market approval and reach other relevant business goals. Thus, you must have knowledge of laws and regulations that apply to the relevant target markets.
Have a business sense and stick to ethics
Until now, we’ve covered four core competencies for a medical translator. Alongside these competencies, you should have business know-how which is basically a soft skill.
To work on this skill, you can participate in online training courses or read books that discuss the business side of medical translation in particular. For instance, you can read “The Prosperous Translator” and “The Business Guide for Translators”.
As a medical translator, it will also be your duty to respect the privacy and confidentiality of the client’s information. So, you must stick to the code of ethics professional translators generally follow.
If you don’t know how to handle the client’s information, you may run into career-ending situations. So, develop a thorough understanding of the business and ethical standards in the industry to become the best in your field.