MET workshops

Anatomy, part 2: understanding the skin

In complex fields such as science and medicine, good translation requires not only terminological accuracy but also an ability to understand and convey difficult concepts clearly. As key biological and medical concepts are often applicable to a variety of contexts, expanding our knowledge and understanding of how one system works also gives us greater insight into how other systems of the body function in health and disease. This will increase our capacity to produce accurate and coherent translations.

Recent developments in cell biology, genetics, and immunology have led to major advances in our understanding of human physiology and pathology. In dermatology, these advances have increased our capacity to diagnose and treat disease. The ever-important medical history and physical examination are now supplemented by a wide range of tests: imaging studies, immunological tests, genetic studies, biopsies, etc. Given that the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of skin disease are based on the same principles applied in all areas of medicine, an understanding of the anatomy and biology of the skin and the principles of diagnosis and treatment in dermatology will serve as a useful tool in many areas of medical translation.

Developer and facilitator: Philip Bazire, MD

Purpose: To explore key concepts in medicine through the example of dermatology.

Description and Structure:

In this workshop, after an explanation of normal skin structure and function, we will use two conditions (psoriasis and melanoma) to highlight the different signs and symptoms of skin disease that are particularly important to dermatologists and to provide insight into the tests doctors use to elicit the information they require to help them reach a diagnosis.

Rather than provide specific examples of translation problems that can arise, the aim of this workshop is to give translators and editors of medical texts a knowledge of the basic concepts of dermatology that will enable them to understand why different aspects are emphasised in different medical texts and to see a logical progression in the discussion of a disease. Discussion with the facilitator will also give participants a chance to use the language while learning the concepts.

Toward the end of the workshop we will take a more general look at the medical history, which is the outcome of a systematised technique for eliciting information from a patient or witness. The history has certain features that must be covered in all patients, regardless of the patient’s complaint, and then variable parts that are adapted to each specific case. Knowledge of the different sections of a medical history is essential in order to understand the shorthand that is so common in medical writing.

Who should attend? Translators and text editors will benefit from an understanding of the basic concepts of skin anatomy, physiology and pathology. The complementary tests discussed will be of assistance in many areas of medical translation and editing.

Outcome skills:
  • Knowledge of the structure and function of the skin
  • An understanding of the way physicians and surgeons refer to the skin in health and disease
  • Knowledge of medical tests used in dermatology and a wide range of medical specialities
  • An understanding of how a medical history is structured
Pre-meeting information:

Participants are encouraged to send examples (particularly those referring to specific terminology) to the facilitator beforehand in order for a more detailed response to be prepared than might be feasible during the workshop itself or for possible inclusion in the presentation.

About the facilitator:

Philip Bazire is a surgeon with training both in England and in Spain and has worked as a medical translator since 1998. Philip is currently based near Madrid.