Medical Knowledge and Terminology


This course is an excellent tool for both current and prospective medical interpreters. Current medical interpreters will find that this training course will help to refresh and upgrade their current knowledge and prospective medical interpreters will need this course as a basis for being able to interpret effectively in medical settings.

The Two Essential Skill Sets that a Community Medical Interpreter Must Master

  1. Interpretation and Interpretation Management Skills

    Professional interpreters must follow strict rules of protocol and procedure. These protocols and procedures are exceptionally important when working in a medical setting. The Interpreter's Code of Ethics and the Standards of Practice provide interpreters with guidelines for conducting interpretations that conform to high standards of excellence. In medical settings, there is no room for error. The Standards of Practice assist interpreters in knowing how and when to clarify a point without hindering the flow of information. Given that many community interpreters also have medical training, it is critically important that the interpreter remain within his or her scope of practice as the interpreter.


  2. Medical Terminology Knowledge

    In most medical interpretations, health professionals generally use simple language to ask questions and provide information. For instance, gastroenteritis might be referred to as "tummy problems". However, there are many medical terms that have no simple substitutes or aphorisms. Should a physician or other health care professionals use terminology that has no quick English substitute it is up to the interpreter to translate it into the commonplace mirror term most often used in the client's first language or dialect. As such, it is very important that the medical interpreter have a thorough understanding of a wide variety of medical terms. As you work your way through the course, create a list of L1 mirror terms* that you can quickly recall during a medical interpretation.

    *L1 mirror terms – refers to how you would interpret an English term into the target language. For example, the word for dialysis in English does not translate easily into Arabic. Predetermining the word you would use in Arabic for the term dialysis will make it easier and more efficient when interpreting in a medical setting.