Medical Translation: What Are the Main Specializations?

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Medical translation is a branch of scientific-technical translation that focuses on the field of medicine and related sciences. It’s main goal is to convey information in the most objective way possible, achieving precision, clarity, and term accuracy.

What are the areas of specialization in medical translation?

Although at first you may think that “medical translation” is equivalent to translating patient records or package inserts, it includes a lot more than that. It covers five sectors: translation agencies or companies, the pharmaceutical sector, the publishing sector, public health and the institutional sector.

Translation agencies

It is one of the areas that specialize in medical translation. The vast majority of medical translation jobs accessed by translators come from translation companies or agencies, which act as intermediaries between the translator and the end client. They have professionals specialized in various fields and contact the most suitable for the assignment.

The prerequisite for joining an agency is to pass a translation test for this specialization. The translators’ professional background and experience, as well as their ability to work under tight deadlines, are also valued. 

The pharmaceutical sector

The pharmaceutical sector is where you can find the translation of the medication package inserts mentioned above. There are also many other types of text included here, such as protocols, drug data sheets, clinical trials, reports, etc.

Years ago, pharmaceutical companies and laboratories often had their own in-house translators, whereas today translation services are most often outsourced. Therefore, nowadays it’s more common for the client to contact an agency.

Publishing sector

The publishing sector is one of the most demanding, as its professionals must be experts in the field. Translators work alongside authors, reviewers and editors, all of whom share a very high degree of expertise.

Publications in this sector, such as scientific articles or essays, are aimed at other professionals or students in the field, although there are also publications of an informative nature for the general public.

Editorial Médica Panamericana is the leading publisher in this sector, not only because of its more than 3,000 works published since its creation, but also because of the extensive training program it offers.

Public health and institutional sector

The public health and institutional sector go hand in hand, as the main clients are hospitals, health centers, international organizations and institutions, which often have translators on staff.

The texts are related to the social nature of medicine: human resources, epidemiology, nutrition, etc. They are also characterized by the inclusion of legal-administrative jargon, so a certain degree of specialization in this area is also necessary.

As you can see, medical translation is a very versatile discipline and always collaborates with specialists to guarantee not only the quality of the service, but also the accuracy of the information. Make sure you always hire professional translators.

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