Guest blog post: Highlights from Erin Lyons’s webinar series on medical translation Reply

Erin Lyons is a full-time French to English and Italian to English translator, medical writer, and consultant. Her primary areas of expertise include clinical research, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and cosmetic products. In this guest post, Erin provides a brief overview of her ongoing webinar series on medical translation.


Erin_LyonsOver the next 3 months, I am pleased to be presenting a webinar series on ProZ.com that will be focusing on four different spheres of medical translation, patient informed consent, medical charts, journal articles, and regulatory affairs.

In the field of translation, we like to specialise and we also like to categorise. We like to call ourselves “medical” translators, “legal” translators or “sci-tech” translator., etc. However, as we know all too well, even such seemingly specific specialties entail an infinite number of sub-specialties and document types, each with its own rules, terminology and challenges.

Medical translation is no different and, while there is an abundance of general training materials on getting started in medical translation or the basics, there is a scarcity of information on the more specific sub-domains in the field that are unique to linguists and translators. This is why I have favoured this “close-reading” approach in the webinars of specific documents that one can expect to handle as a medical translator. Just like surgeons, in this webinar series we will dissect the documents in question and hone in on the greatest challenges and best language and material-specific resources to get the job done.

For example, in Part 1 of the series, “The Patient’s Perspective: Best Practices for Translating ICFs and PILs” (already completed on 8th May, but available for download), we took a close look at ICFs (Informed Consent Forms) and PILs (Patient Information Leaflets) and how these seemingly simple documents are surprisingly rife with challenges and also contain somewhat unexpected amounts of medical terminology. We reviewed the importance of writing for your audience (patients, parents, caretakers, minors, etc.), along with tools, such as readability scores and plain language glossaries that can be used to ensure proper patient-facing register.

The next webinar in the series, on 5th June, “SOAP Notes and Medical Charts: The Nitty Gritty of Medical Reports”, will focus on translating progress notes – often called SOAPs (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) – and patient records. Many translators fear translating these reports, which often come in the form of PDFs that need to be re-created, messy doctor handwriting and with an abundance of obscure acronyms and abbreviations. However, understanding how doctors and other medical professionals use and write these documents can help translators, who should always avoid staying at a superficial word level, to truly understand the entire clinical picture and capture a more meaningful and accurate translation of the document.

The third installment – “Medical Journals: Translating Like A Writer, Not A Scientist” – is aimed at translators who may even moonlight as medical writers. Translating for medical journals or writing English abstracts based on a foreign-language article can be a challenging endeavor. It can be difficult to maintain the balance between translating with a writer’s artistry, while remaining faithful to structured medical content. In this hour, we will focus on standards for medical writing and will end with an essential checklist to ensure that your translation meets industry expectations for polish and readability, while still complying with style guidelines and ethical standards, such as Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company Sponsored Medical Research.

A final, last reason to stay out of the heat and join in on this summer’s medical translation webinar series is to take part in our webinar on regulatory affairs, “Where Regulatory Rules: Translating Drug Leaflets, Packaging and Labelling”. After discussing all of these highly regulated documents – drug leaflets, packaging and labelling – you may be curious to learn more about the regulatory affairs side of the business and how to effectively gather, evaluate, organise, interpret and present data based on the source language and corresponding target FDA/EMA regulations. In our last hour together, you will become familiar with the steps of the translation, in-country review and post-marketing review processes and how to negotiate “untranslatables”. Confronting these specific translation challenges, resources and references will help you better translate regulatory medical documents in a manner that is less research-driven and more profitable.

For those interested in joining the conversation as part of this summer medical translation webinar series, please check the ProZ.com website for more information on registering and/or downloading the series:

  1. The Patient’s Perspective: Best Practices for Translating ICFs and PILs (completed, but available as an on-demand video)
  2. SOAP Notes and Medical Charts: The Nitty Gritty of Medical Reports, 5 June 2015, 3 PM CEST (GMT + 2)
  3. Medical Journals: Translating Like A Writer, Not A Scientist, 10 July 2015, 3 PM CEST (GMT + 2)
  4. Where Regulatory Rules: Translating Drug Leaflets, Packaging and Labelling, 7 August 2015, 3 PM CEST (GMT + 2)

Thanks, Erin, for this guest post.

Questions, feedback, or suggestions can be made in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom

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