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Why doctors should not be in charge of medical translations?

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medical translations

13 Nov Why doctors should not be in charge of medical translations?

Should doctors be in charge of medical translations? In Okomeds we strongly believe that the correct answer is no. A doctor should not work as a medical translator. And here are some facts reinforcing this position.

To translate or not to translate... there is no question
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  • Medicine and translation are unlike areas of specialization. It is true that medical translations are a good link between both of them. Nevertheless, the skills and knowledge needed are very different.
  • Can you image a plumber or a lawyer carrying out translations related to their field? No, even if they fluently speak the source and the target languages. Why? It is simple, because they are not translators and – as a linguistic specialisation is always required – they can not do it in good conditions. So, the same occurs in the case of a doctor, who should not be in charge of medical translations.
  • If a doctor might do medical translations… does that mean a medical translator might do surgeries or medical consultations? The answer is a resounding no; but in each way.
  • There are some linguistic issues that a doctor, or a health-care specialist, is not prepared to face. Naturalness, coherence or documentation are just a few examples of skills that are only improved thanks to a several-years academic training and an experienced career as a translator.
  • Health is a very delicate issue and many professionals must take their part. Doctors play a really important role, but they can not do the whole. That means that they should not be in charge of medical translations because such task must be assigned to a qualified medical translator.
  • Medical translators – apart from perfectly speaking at least one foreign language – have a deep knowledge of their speciality. There are some words with a very precise translation and it is not allowed to feel free to translate them into any term, sentence or idea. It all must be perfectly done.
  • Quality is at stake. But health, which is even more important, is at stake too.
  • There are some medical translators who started as doctors, and vice versa. However, the process of changing the career needs time, dedication, and skills. Being a specialist in healthcare and in translation helps a lot, but being a professional in medical translations requires a further specialisation.
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