In light of the global pandemic, viruses have been in the news and on our mind – and while it certainly has brought viruses into the spotlight, they actually existed 3.5 billion years before humans evolved on Earth! Viruses are also most numerous microbes on earth – there are more viruses than bacteria and there are more viruses than all forms of life put together, including humans and animals!
Aside from COVID-19, there are many more viruses that medical interpreters may encounter: from HIV and HPV to measles and hepatitis. I put these resources together to supplement a class I developed (Virology for Medical Interpreters), but this blog post can be used a standalone resource to help medical interpreters learn more about virology, viruses and diseases they can cause, as well as how these diseases can be prevented and/or treated.
Whether you are a medical interpreting student preparing for medical interpreter certification exams or a working medical interpreter looking for a quick refresher on the respiratory system in order to prepare for an interpreting assignment, this collection of resources on respiratory health and respiratory diseases is here to help. Alternatively, you can skip to the end of the article where you’ll find some videos with medical dialogues to help you keep your interpreting skills sharp.
In this post, I put together resources related to anatomy of the respiratory system, as well as diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions and diseases. As you are reading, wathching and listening to various sources in this article, you could:
Engage in terminology mining – that it, finding words and phrases that are new to you or that might be familiar to you in English, but need to be looke up in your working language(s). Just remember to add the new terminology you learn along the way to your personal glossary!
Practice simultanious and consecutive interpreting skills – whether it’s shadowing or note-taking.
Respiratory System: Anatomy and Physiology
Let’s start with basics: the anatomy and physiology. As a medical interpreter, this section will help you in several ways. Firstly, background knowledge and understanding of the respratory system inner workings will promote accuracy in your interpreting. Secondly, when explaining diagnoses and treatment plans, providers often desctibe relevant anatomy and physiology – so by learning this termonology in English and your working language(s), you will be able to interpet in such appointements with full confidence!
Crash Course videos on Respiratory System, Part 1 and Part 2 – and they also come with flash cards to help you review. The cards can be found on the free Crash Course app (Apple Devices and Android Devices)
Breathtaking Lungs: Their Function and Anatomy – a very detailed and clear explanation of how we breathe. There are more links below the main text for articles devoted to a more detailed look at specific parts of the respiratory system such as pulmonary trunk and various sections of the lungs.
Good Respiratory Therapist Bad Respiratory Therapist. In this podcast espisode, the hosts discuss respiratory therapists and how much nurses rely on them for their knowledge and expertise of the respiratory system. They will tell the story of a “bad respiratory therapist” who was accused of an unspeakable crime against his wife. They close out the show with a good respiratory therapist who has saved lives with CPR in the community on two separate occasions!
If you’re on Facebook, consider joining my Facebook group, Interpreters and Translators in Washington State, which welcomes interpreters working in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere to join and participate in this wonderful online community!
Whether you are someone thinking of becoming a medical interpreter, are about to take your medical interpreter exams or are a seasoned interpreter wishing to expand your knowledge of all things medicine, you will need resources – to help you learn more, to bolster your knowledge of medical terminology, and to practice interpreting skills. One way to access such resources is to take a training course – and in fact, both organizations certifying medical interpreters on the national level require interpreters to take at least 40 hours of training. Outside of prerequisite training, there are hundreds of opportunities to get those CEUs (continuing education units) that are required for re-certification. There are training opportunities that are free or paid, online or in person, lasting from 2 hours to 3 days. But what if you want to learn about medical topics outside those formal training sessions? Something you can do as part of your leisure time, or maybe on the go while you’re commuting to work? Something that is free?
In my previous two posts, I wrote about using TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy as a resource for medical interpreters and described the ways books about doctors and medicine can help medical interpreters not only to gain more knowledge but also to hone their interpreting skills. In this post, I`m going to talk about the third source of information and skills practice – podcasts. For those of you who are new to this concept, I will explain what podcasts are and where to find them, and I will also provide a list of podcasts about health and medicine as well as a list of episodes centered on the topic of medicine from podcasts that are not medical in nature.
Reading is life! I am an unapologetic bookworm and I attribute my success in learning English to my insatiable appetite for reading. In addition, by reading books about doctors and medicine, I have gained insight into the medical world and have learned a myriad of new words and expressions that helped me do my job of a medical interpreter.
As I wrote in this post, where I recommend that medical interpreters watch TV shows in order to improve their medical vocabulary and get some interpreting practice, stimulating input is a key factor in learning. And chances are, if you are a medical interpreter (or are thinking about becoming one), you are interested in medicine. This is where books about medicine come in! Please note that the books I`m talking about are not medical textbooks on anatomy and such, and neither are they novels set in hospitals. I’m talking about books about medicine and medical providers, often written in the form of memoirs. Such books are a perfect source of the following:
general insight into the world of medicine and medical training
information on diseases, symptoms, treatments, complications, and outcomes
medical vocabulary, which can be general or specialized depending on the book
interpreting skills practice (see the section on audiobooks below for more details on how to practice).
This is a blog post where I finally get to talk about how great Grey’s Anatomy is and nobody can stop me! On the serious side, this blog post will describe a possibly unconventional resource for medical interpreters which can be used to add to their medical glossaries and contribute to their overall knowledge of medicine and healthcare: medical TV shows. You can find a list of more conventional resources in my blog post here.
About 5 years ago, when I was living in Novosibirsk, Russia, I got to interpret at a lecture on totally thoracoscopic radiofrequency ablation of atrial fibrillation. The lecture was given at one of the leading medical institutions in Russia by a visiting professor. It was decided that I would interpret consecutively by standing next to the professor and speaking into my own microphone. As far as arrangements for preparations went, it couldn’t have been more perfect – I was given the lecture presentation slides in advance and allowed to meet with a cardio surgeon from the institute so that I could go over the terminology that I had questions about and run some translation choices by him. The lecture itself went smoothly and afterwards, when the visiting professor thanked me for my help, he asked me if I’d had any medical training. I told him about my extensive preparations but also said I learned a lot from watching Grey’s Anatomy. The professor started laughing – and then he abruptly stopped when he saw that I wasn’t joking. I’m not sure what he made of that but I stand by my opinion: watching medical TV shows can be a valuable tool for medical interpreters.