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Medical Terminology for Interpreters

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Working as a medical interpreter is an overwhelming process, whether you’re beginning your career or you’ve been interpreting for years. As an interpreter (and particularly a medical interpreter), learning medical terminology is a vital part of the job. Without a basic understanding of medical terms and phrases, your interpreting sessions can’t proceed smoothly.

It can be daunting: the medical field is vast and complex so medical terminology is often complicated and highly nuanced. Luckily, you don’t need to know everything: a general knowledge of common appointments, doctors, and terms works perfectly well. Setting a proper foundation for your medical interpreting work allows for confidence, professionalism, and flow.

To this end, we’ve created an eLearning course: Medical Terminology for Interpreters. The course is designed for interpreters of any level: from new interpreters to industry professionals.

Why is it important to learn Medical Terminology?

Though often discounted as part of an assignment, preparation is one of the most important parts of an interpreting session. Whether you’re with an agency, a fully independent contractor, or employed full-time, knowing what to expect is key. Having a basic knowledge of medical terminology allows you the confidence to handle any appointment or session.

In the medical field there are specialties, doctors and phrases for any ailment or condition. Medical terminology is ingrained in the academic and scientific world, and ever-changing, it is like its own language. Most medical appointments are at least somewhat conversational in tone, as patients are not usually professionals in this field. This allows you great flexibility in your role as an interpreter. In order to better understand the language, the patient is likely to ask you questions. However, to interpret properly, it is vital that you have general knowledge that includes an accurate vocabulary.

The advantages of knowing medical terms

It is important that you have a broad understanding of medical language, even if you are not a professional in the field. The goals of medical professionals are to explain diseases and treatments to their patients. Therefore, they try to use language that is easily understood by patients. Although interpreters are the first line of defense against patient misunderstandings, some words or phrases may catch you off guard. That’s why your knowledge of basic medical terminology comes in handy. Both knowing the root of the words and the context in which they are used helps the session flow.

Another advantage of having a basic knowledge of medical terminology is that it contributes to your professionalism. While having a dictionary is important and using it occasionally is acceptable, providers prefer to request an interpreter who does not have to constantly stop and use it. Every time an interpreter has to stop to look up a word, it takes away from their role as a linguistic conductor; thus causing a waste of time for both, the patient and the provider, which leads to dissatisfaction and breaks the flow. That is why is preferable to prepare in advance to avoid these situations.

The wonderful thing about learning is that once you have the knowledge, it’s an investment in your future career. Every medical term that you learn, every concept that you understand, will help you in your future endeavors. This is what makes furthering education so important: each new piece of information contributes to your interpreting abilities.

How should I start?

We all agree that learning medical terminology is important, but what’s the best way to go about it? With so many medical specialties and terms, it’s tough to know where to begin! Our goal at Global Arena is to help interpreters thrive in their careers, meeting their goals and helping countless individuals.

To help you as you progress, we created an interactive, eLearning medical terminology course. Our program will help you to gain the necessary medical understanding to successfully act as a medical interpreter regardless of setting. From routine check-ups to specialist visits and emergency appointments, you’ll handle any situation with ease, confidence, and professionalism.


How will our course help you?

The course is designed for interpreters of all skill levels. It aims to give a better understanding of medical interpreting terminology and basic anatomy. This course is also suitable for professionals who want to incorporate interpreting practices into their work. These situations require a broad working knowledge of anatomy and physiology. By the end of the course, you’ll know the major bodily systems, human anatomy, specialists, and diagnostic procedures. Medical Terminology for Interpreters also includes a glossary with spaces to write words and phrases in your target language.

The course creation process included collaboration with medical professionals, including general practice doctors, specialists, nurses, and university professors and researchers. It consists of twelve modules. Module one covers common specialists, diagnostic procedures, and scans. The next modules correspond to each bodily system: skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, muscular, gastrointestinal, integumentary, nervous, immune, endocrine, renal/urinary, and reproductive. The course provides a basic knowledge of all these systems, including functions, anatomy, processes, and common maladies and injuries.


Duration and Format

The course is timed to last 180 minutes, though you’re always welcome to revisit a module for better comprehension. It consists of informational modules and an exam with a certificate upon completion and a passing exam result.

Each module consists of a variety of informational slides, both lecture and interactive. These slides aim to broadly engage participants, ensure information retention, and encourage application. The e-learning version of the course is entirely online and easily accessible from our e-learning platform: no downloads required. We regularly update the information to meet current standards.

The information is updated regularly to meet current standards. Courses can be taken within one year of purchase. After one year, if the course has not been completed, the program will be eliminated from the trainee’s dashboard. Certificates are accessible at any time.

With enrollment, our system automatically creates your personal eLearning account. This gives you the freedom to revisit your courses, enroll in new courses, and keep everything in one place. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to become the best interpreter you can. We’re always available to address your questions and concerns and offer advice to our participants.

Global Arena's recommendation!