Experienced medical translator: an interview with Yana Onikiychuk

Yana Onikiychuk is a medical doctor and an EN, DE, PL-RU medical translator and interpreter. She benefits from two backgrounds working in the medical localisation field.

She is an acclaimed speaker and her webinars with eCPD include Technical series on medical devices and imaging for language professionals, taking place in July and now open for booking.

Q 1. What excites you about medicine in general and medical translation in particular?

It’d taken me a separate post to talk about things that excite me about medicine. In essence, I’m always excited about how the human body works in health and in disease, how doctors can correct pathology to bring patients back to being healthy. I’m also fascinated with discoveries made by medical society through the last century, both in terms of understanding the pathology and improving treatment. And we should remember, that medical translation plays a great part in this process, helping to transfer medical knowledge from country to country, as well as helping to improve the health and life of patients worldwide.

Q 2. Can you tell us a little about the importance of medical devices for medical translation as if we knew nothing about it or the market?

In the medical device industry, translation has a great value at all stages of the life cycle of a device, starting with the research and development, patenting, regulatory approval especially – for example, to register a device in Russia, the manufacturing company has to translate a ‘small library’ of documents into Russian. International clinical trials with medical devices also provide a high volume of documents for translation. Last but not least, user documents such as instructions for use, patient information and marketing materials also require translation once the device is approved for a particular market.

Q 3. What are the key challenges in the field of medical translation? Which one of them do you find particularly difficult?

I believe the most difficult thing about medical translation is understanding the field and not only the device in question, but everything to do with it: anatomy, pathology, treatment options, regulatory environment, healthcare systems, etc. This list is never-ending…

Experienced medical translatorQ 4. What is the most innovative change you see happening in the field, and how can we take advantage of this change as medical language professionals?

The greatest change that has happened in recent years in the medical field is open knowledge. Many medical knowledge resources are now available for no cost in the form of manuals, podcasts and applications. And it is of greatest value for medical language professionals who can use it to improve the understanding of the field.

Q 5. What is one skill you would like to improve and why?

Patience – not to rush through all emerging medical knowledge, but go slowly and savour it.

Q 6. Bonus question: what action do you want the reader to take after reading the article?

After the webinar, put the phone/laptop aside and go to the park, enjoy the weather with your loved ones.

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