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Specialist translation - Medical translation




Medical translation

The medical field is a discipline undergoing continuous change, both in terms of innovations in treatment and new developments in the information technology and e-documentation. The wide range of possibilities for subspecialties and the lucrative nature of the industry’s enduring growth, despite a rather lackluster economy, make specializing in medical and life sciences translation an intriguing option. However, translators entering this field will need to embrace technology in order to service.

Medical translators are already required to be well versed in medical terminology and to keep up with advances in research, technology, procedures, and standard of care, so the ever-changing context of the field presents additional challenges. Translators must remain vigilant to ensure that they acquire and maintain the necessary skill set to stay ahead of the technological curve.

Translation is still translation, but expectations have changed in terms of productivity, timeliness, and integration. Medical translators spend much of their time translating source documentation and case report forms (CRFs) so that international data from multicenter studies can be collected and harmonized.

Most medical translators are all too familiar with CRFs, the standardized form used by clinical sites to transcribe relevant data from patient medical charts (the “source documentation”) and compile it with data from other sites around the world to create a statistical pool for study data analysis. As clinical trials expand globally, a properly internationalized and localized eCRF application is essential to provide faster, less expensive, and more consistent translations. The key features of the eCRF are that it provides:


For translators, the types of data requiring translation have essentially remained unchanged but the platform through which the information is collected and presented has changed, as well as the constraints. While most medical translators are fairly accustomed to using translation memories (TMs), terminology databases, quality review of document templates, and other reference guidelines, eCRFs call for standardized data input and mapping, as well as classifications such as the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) and its related glossaries.

Innovation is Key
Although it may seem overwhelming at first, adapting to new innovations in medical technology should be viewed as an opportunity and business driver for even the less than tech-savvy translator. As in all business sectors, it is vital that translators strategize to find ways to add value to their “product.” Providing quality translations that meet technological expectations is an excellent way for medical translators to find their niche and differentiate themselves from the competition.

The original article was published in the January 2013 issue of The ATA Chronicle and was written by Erin M. Lyons.

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