Medical translation is one of the most specialised language services in our industry, and the consequences of translation mistakes in the medical field are as drastic as it gets. It therefore requires some of the most strictest quality assurance measures in translation services. This starts with selecting the right medical translators for every project – professionals with the correct skill sets and experience to deliver results. In this article, we explain why medical translation is different from other language services and the key attributes to look for when hiring a medical translator.
What makes medical translation different?
Medical translation refers to a broad set of translation services specifically designed for overcoming the language challenges of a global medical industry. This most commonly includes the translation of a variety of medical documentation (research papers, medical records, pharmaceutical documentation, etc.) but it can also extend to other services such as medical interpretation and transcription.
Given the technical nature of medical translation and the potential implications of issues (lawsuits, injury, deaths, etc.), you cannot simply hire a translator and expect them to have all of the skills and experience required. Likewise, the depth of specialisms within medical translation (e.g. neurology vs cardiology, specific diseases, medical technologies, etc.) requires specialist knowledge.
This means that companies, medical providers and manufacturers need translators with very specific skill-sets that go beyond the native language abilities required for translation itself.
What to look for in a medical translator?
As with any translation project, translators who are fluent in both the source language and one of the target languages is a must. However, medical translators need to have a range of other skills, attributes and qualifications to produce 100% reliable output.
- Certification: While there is no specific certification for medical translation, it is important that you always hire certified translators on any project.
- Experience: Only consider medical translators with experience working on projects within your subject area, e.g. medical research translation, pharmaceutical translation, clinical trials etc.
- Medical expertise: Your translators should have demonstrable experience in the medical field or medical studies.
- Medical qualifications/experience: This could include official qualifications such as a medical degree or a degree in a medical-related subject, as well as several years’ working experience in healthcare settings, the pharmaceutical industry or relevant sectors.
- Subject knowledge: Ensure your medical translators have sufficient subject knowledge within your specific field. For example, in clinical trials, medical reports, infectious diseases, etc.
- Translation technology: Check which translation tools potential medical translators are using and how. Such tools include: automatic translation, terminology management, translation memory, etc.
- Quality assurance: Medical translators should have a strict quality control system to ensure all of their output is 100% accurate.
- Review process: Likewise, medical translators should also have a comprehensive review process that includes editing and proofreading where any final changes can be made before approval.
- Privacy & security: Medical translation often involves sensitive information about people, products and companies, which must be protected at all times.
When it comes to certification, we are certified to both ISO 17100 (quality translation services) and ISO 9001 (quality management processes) standards for medical translators and interpreters in the UK, but there is currently no certification system for medical translation specifically.
This means you have to pay attention to the experience of potential translators, to better understand their background in the medical field and the type of projects they have previously worked on. Potential medical translation candidates must have proven knowledge in your area within the field of Medical and Life Sciences as well as demonstrable experience translating relevant documents and content such as medical records, medical device user manuals, research papers, etc.
So, if your next project involves translating a series of medical studies into radiology innovations for example, your chosen medical translators must have experience in translating medical studies. They should also have solid subject knowledge of radiology and medical imaging technology.
Looking for a quality medical translator?
Finding the right medical translators with specialist subject knowledge and experience with the same type of documents you are dealing with can be challenging. Medicine is one of the most complex and technologically advanced fields in modern industry with a network of specialisms within specialisms, e.g. neurology, paediatric neurology, paediatric neurocritical care, etc.
The deeper your project delves into specialisms, the greater need you would have for translation professionals with subject knowledge, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
At translate plus, we specialise in medical translation and have a strong network of experienced medical translators with subject knowledge across a variety of fields and specialisms that our clients are currently tapping into.
If you need help finding the right medical translators for your next project or help to develop a robust translation strategy, get in touch with us by filling out the form on our contact page.