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The doctor who quit her practice for medical translations


Claudia’s story is uncommon.

While doctors try to spend as much time as possible with patients, Claudia understood that what happens behind the scenes in the medical field is just as important. A crucial part of the field is translation jobs, and when a new device comes from overseas, or a procedure, a drug or a clinical study, she is the one who makes them accessible to the industry. She translates it for the doctors, the pharma specialists, or the patients themselves.

There is a link between medicine and translations, although you might miss it. It’s similar to the connection between marketing and your favorite story. Modern medicine works thanks to precise and honest information, regardless of where a device comes from, a pill or procedure ready to save human lives. Translators are the ones who make data easier to understand for professionals and patients alike. They indirectly fight to save lives through their translations.

Medicine, a behind-the-scenes

You’d expect medical professionals to be the only beneficiaries of the translation process but things are a bit different. Claudia is one of the few but precious doctors who understood just how important error-free and clear translations are in the medical world. After working as a doctor for a little while, she decided to exchange the stethoscope for the dictionary and translations.

“I went through medical school and then residency in the field of general medicine, after which I worked as a general physician for a short while. Before joining the agency, I used to work for quite a while as a journalist on medical topics for a Timisoara-based magazine. I wrote medical articles for this paper and it helped me grow as a creative person”, Claudia told us.

Leaving the practice for the agency

Although she worked as a doctor, Claudia finally decided that the world of creative writing is more up her alley, not necessarily easier but far more her thing than working directly with patients, in a practice. She then took a leap of faith and luckily, it worked out great for her.

“I decided to go for medical studies during high school. Why? I’d say because it was a family tradition, more than anything. Medicine means a high intake of theoretical knowledge you have to memorize, as well as practical things to learn and apply with patients. It’s the exact opposite of translations”, Claudia told us, who now works for our Medical Division.

Solving medical translations is still one of the more demanding subfields of linguistic services for translators, implying knowledge about terminology and phrasing that are very specific. For an outsider, medical translations are most of the time unsolvable puzzles. Including for some linguists!

“I’ve always been a fan of writing. I believe this is the main reason why I decided to switch to translations, now that I think about it. It comes with responsibility, attention to detail, language quirks and words that have to make sense for doctors and regular people alike”, our colleague said.

Just how hard are medical translations?

Medical translations save lives – and this is not just a motto. It’s very important as a patient, a doctor or a pharmacist to know exactly what you’re dealing with whenever you go through a procedure, or go over a prospectus that has just made it on the market. Because of the more demanding aspect of the field, medical translations are crucial to be solved by experts in the field, just like Claudia. For her, the biggest challenge about her work is correctness.

“When it comes to translations, I focus on the accuracy of my deliverables, as well as on the correctness of the content. When you work on a medical document, every single word counts. Especially if you’re solving a more technical file, a leaflet, or any other chunk of text that has a direct correlation with a patient, or a procedure. I need to put in a lot of extra effort on each and every phrase, otherwise, you risk sending out a potentially dangerous file”, Claudia noted.

A day in the life of a medical translator

Doctors have a rigorous and precise schedule when they’re at the practice or the hospital. This is not the case with medical translators, for whom each new day is different from the last one. Including working hours, projects, other activities and so on. Translators, although used to a “working” schedule, enjoy more freedom with time management than a doctor.

“Translations and proofreading are daily tasks for me now. As a linguist, I look over the source document, then look for references and check them out, solve the translation when I have gathered all of my data, revise the entire piece, look over the clean version and that’s that. It’s a process that I’ve been able to master to its finest details. Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with more revisions than actual translations lately”, Claudia confessed.

Claudia has a simple set of tools that she uses on a daily basis, including a notebook and a crayon, a laptop and surely, a latte. Or two, if the workload implies it. Just like any translator who’s great with time management, she takes deadlines very seriously and notes down on paper everything that has to be prioritized during working hours. For example, she writes down if a certain translation has to be compliant with any regulations in a certain country.

Besides medical translations, Claudia says she loves to do other things in her free time.

“I don’t do medical translations during my spare time (laughs) but read, listen to music, or watch some movies”, Claudia pinpointed.

There are hundreds of translators just like our Claudia, who worked or were trained in the medical field, and who now solve translations for the industry every day, for Romanian or overseas businesses. Coordinated by the Medical Division team from our Timisoara offices, these people translate some of the most important documents for all of us.

They come in the form of prospectuses, clinical trials, brochures or catalogues, up to a piece of good news on a patient’s medical analysis sheet. The translations these people go through save lives, which is why our linguists solve them with an almost Hippocratic care.

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