Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Medicine In Translation | Psychology Today

Medicine In Translation | Psychology Today: "I see the doctor as a translator. For most people, medicine is a foreign country, with its own language, customs, and mores. My patients are immigrants to this country, and many feel very disoriented. My job, as their physician, is to translate this alien world for them, to help them acclimatize and hopefully thrive.

Jhumpa Lahiri used a beautiful phrase for the titular story of her marvelous first book: 'The Interpreter of Maladies.' Doctors, of course, fit this bill-we are constantly interpreting our patients' maladies-but we are also interpreting the greater culture of medicine.

Being a translator can often be burdensome. It is not enough, as a doctor, to assemble the clinical details, deduce a diagnosis, compose a treatment plan. You also have to be sure the patient understands it all-and that can be an infinitely harder and longer process."

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