• Andrew Bell

How can you test your medical knowledge?

Andrew Bell is a medical and pharmaceutical translator working from Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan to English, trading under the name Bell Johnson Translations. You can connect with him by using the following links:

email: andrew@belljohnsontranslations.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-bell-bjt/

Twitter: @belljohnsonTR

Instagram: @belljohnsontranslations


 

How can translators (or anyone for that matter) test their medical knowledge?


As with all specialisms, if you want to work in medical translation, you need to have the necessary background knowledge. But given that most medical translators don’t undergo formal medical training, how can we test our knowledge after undertaking relevant continuing professional development (CPD)?


Throughout my journey of specialising, there has been one activity that has helped me greatly: intralingual translation.


there has been one activity that has helped me greatly: intralingual translation.

The activities I undertook specifically focused on rewriting a text to address a new target audience. This could be rewriting a complex case report for a lay audience or rewriting an article for non-medical experts that would be fit for publication in a medical journal.


The premise of this activity is that if you’re not comfortable expressing the same concepts and/or terminology in different registers, you may not be as comfortable with the topic as you originally thought.


If your conclusion from this activity is that you need to consolidate your knowledge, you should see it as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement and inform your future CPD activities rather than as something negative. Furthermore, it is an activity for translators of all levels because medical knowledge is constantly being updated, and there is always something new to learn.


[Intralingual translation] is an activity for translators of all levels because medical knowledge is constantly being updated, and there is always something new to learn.
 

Example of an intralingual translation


Task: rewrite the extract below for a lay audience.


Source text


Classical Presentation of Acute Appendicitis in the Case of a Subhepatic Appendix

Simran K. Longani, Ahmed Ahmed


Appendicitis is one of the most common causes of abdominal pain in the younger population and accounts for over 40,000 hospital admissions per year across England. Classic symptoms include right iliac fossa (RIF) pain, anorexia, nausea, constipation, and vomiting; however, these classical presentations only occur in 50% of people. In the presence of an anatomical variant where the appendix is aberrantly located, as in this case study of a subhepatic appendix, the clinical picture can be skewed making the initial diagnosis of appendicitis more complex.


Target text

Appendicitis, a swelling of the appendix, is one of the most common causes of ‘stomach’ pain in younger people. Classic symptoms include lower right ‘stomach’ pain (near the hip), being severely underweight, feeling sick, constipation and vomiting. However, only half of people with the illness suffer from these symptoms. If the appendix is positioned ‘out of place’, as in this case where the appendix was found below the liver, the symptoms of the illness may be different which make it harder to diagnose.


Some of my translation choices:

  • Abdomen vs stomach: I wrote 'stomach' in inverted commas as in everyday English, the abdomen is commonly referred to as the stomach, but the stomach is one specific organ within the abdomen. Another option could have been belly, or perhaps even abdomen could arguably be used.

  • Anorexia: not to be confused with 'anorexia nervosa' which is an eating disorder, and more commonly referred to as simply anorexia in everyday English.

Of course, this is just one of many activities that you could do to test your medical knowledge. Please get in touch if you’d like to share any activities that you have undertaken that have helped you improve your specialist knowledge.

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