What You (Don't) Need to Be a Medical Communicator

“Why would I hire you to write or translate medical texts? You’re not a health care provider. And your background is in humanities!”


To be a medical writer or a medical translator, you must know how to write or translate about medicine.



However, you do not need to know how to practice medicine. That is why I never put myself through medical school.


MORE: What I’m Not vs. What I Am


For instance, I like to learn about radiopharmaceuticals and imaging equipment. But I will not be administering those drugs or operating those devices. Instead, I write or translate about those.


“Okay. But wouldn’t it be ideal to know how to practice medicine?”


Maybe, but that is why having a network that includes health care providers works for me.


Whenever I need to clarify or validate something, they will assist me — and I will help them too if they need advice about language(s) or communication.


If trained appropriately, both medical professionals and medically knowledgeable linguists can write or translate medical texts.


“Then, what have you done to learn about medicine?”


The first client that asked me to take on a medical translation project offered to train me as I worked. I must have been a great fit because they still rely on me 5+ years later.


And while learning by doing is great, you may also need to know certain things beforehand, especially if you want to take on more technical projects.


That is why I have completed the following training programs over these last years:


  • American Medical Writers Association — Medical Writing Essential Skills Certificate Program

  • AulaSIC — Master’s in Medical Translation

  • Medical Interpreting Training School — 40-Hour Program for Spanish Interpreters

  • Regulatory Affairs Professional Society — Regulatory Medical Writing Program

  • The University of Queensland — Introduction to Biomedical Imaging


Additionally, I have attended many courses, events, and seminars; read books; researched topics; and written articles.


CHECK: Credentials


Besides knowing that I help others, do you know why I also love my work as a medical communicator?


I never stop learning!


Now, a few questions for my readers:


  • What do you love the most about your job/specialty?

  • What challenges have you encountered?

  • How did you become who you are today?

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