Top Reference Books for Medical Translation

When translating medical records, one’s training and experience may not always be sufficient. Even doctors admit to looking up topics that they haven’t encountered in a long time. It only makes sense that even the most seasoned medical translation professionals will occasionally encounter medical terms that they haven’t seen or don’t recall. Choosing to keep some valuable reference books by your side will help any medical translator provide a good combination of quick service and high accuracy. Below is a list of ISI’s top recommended reference books.

Useful Texts For Medical Translation

  1. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures By Anne Fadiman: This book offers an important perspective on how the cultural components of medical advice play an important role in each patient’s care. This immigrant family’s story reminds you to strive to learn the “culture of medical care” in the patient’s native language and country.
  2. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary: A highly-comprehensive medical dictionary — with pictures — is helpful for some of the more obscure terms you may encounter as a medical translator. Keep a copy of this English dictionary as well as the highest-rated one in whatever language you are translating into or out of English.
  3. Medical Writing: A Prescription for Clarity by Neville W. Goodman and Martin B. Edwards: This style guide can help when translating from other languages into English. Technically accurate translations may simultaneously be confusing in style and/or awkward in phrasing. This guide helps you simplify your writing so that it is so clear it will not be misunderstood.
  4. Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon by Kathy Magliato: This story told by a heart surgeon will give you insight into some of the difficult choices that have to be made in the operating room. As you read, consider how you would translate patient and medical professional communications if you were in the situation where a language barrier existed.
  5. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine by Dan Longo et al.: While every doctor might recommend a different text from med school, this one is a good overview to get started with deepening your medical know-how, going beyond knowing the words to knowing the contexts in which they are used. This may be a good reference material when your translation doesn’t sound like advice or statements that a doctor would actually give.
  6. Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients by Danielle Ofri: A poignant memoir that depicts what it is like to practice medicine when language barriers, as well as cultural ones exist.
  7. Good Practice Student’s Book: Communication Skills in English for the Medical Practitioner by Marie McCullagh and Rosalind Wright: This book focuses on the language and communication skills that doctors need to make consultations more effective, using five elements of good communication: verbal communication, active listening, voice management, non-verbal communication and cultural awareness.
  8. Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You by Dr. Jerome Groopman and Dr. Pamela Hartzband: Making the right medical decisions is harder than ever. Patients are overwhelmed by information from all sides—whether doctors’ recommendations, dissenting experts, confusing statistics, or testimonials on the Internet. In this book, the authors reveal that each of us has a “medical mind,” a highly individual approach to weighing the risks and benefits of treatments. Awareness of unique “medical minds” can help you tweak your translations to better suit individual patients.
  9. The Anatomy Student’s Self-Text Colouring Book by Kurt H. Albertine: Available in other languages as well, this coloring book is a method to remember where all the different muscles, bones, and organs are in the body.
  10. Medical Translation Step by Step. Learning by Drafting by Vicent Montalt Resurrecció and Maria González Davies: Don’t miss this reference! It is a guide specifically for medical translation and couldn’t be more relevant to your work.

If you are in need of high-quality medical translation from trained professionals, reach out to ISI Language Solutions today. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive translation process and successes in medical translation.