Knowing medical terminology is the foundation for studying any health-related field. Medicine has a language of its own. In the course of studying terminology, you will learn terms related to anatomy, physiology, diagnoses, conditions and treatments. In order to understand the meaning of common conditions, you will have to study Latin root words, prefixes and suffixes. Mastering medical terminology is a complex task, but doable if you have appropriate learning resources. Local and online courses are available, but if you are motivated and self-directed, you can teach yourself at home.
Set aside a specific time for studying medical terminology. Remove yourself from distracting elements. If your home has too many distractions, go to the library or another quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Set reasonable progress goals. Most medical terminology texts are meant to be completed in one semester.
Read the chapter outline or synopsis before studying the content. Many students also find it helpful to read the questions at the end of the chapter before studying the material. This step will give you a clear idea of what you will learn and how the material will be tested. Read one section of the chapter at a time. Complete the learning exercises for each section before moving onto the next. As you complete each section, make a flashcard for each new term by writing the term on one side of an index card and the definition on the other side.
To prepare to take the chapter test, carry your flash cards with you and review them often. When you have committed material on a particular card to memory, set that card aside. When you are confident in your knowledge of the material on all of your cards, you are ready to take the chapter test. If you miss any questions on the test, restudy the terms you didn't know and then retake the test.
Study the next chapter and test, as you did with the first chapter. Before moving on to the next chapter, review your flashcards from the previous chapter. As you progress through the course, you may find it tedious to restudy material that you know by heart. Once you have committed the material on the flashcards to memory, set the flashcards aside until you prepare to study for the cumulative final exam.
Study your flashcards to prepare to take the final. After going through an entire medical terminology text, you may have accumulated a sizable stack of cards. Throw away any cards with material you already know. As you study, you will find that your stack of cards is dwindling and your confidence in the ability to ace the final is increasing.
- An audio recording, sometimes offered with texts, can be very helpful in teaching you correct pronunciation of medical terminology.
- Don't buy premade flashcards offered in conjunction with the text. Making your own cards will improve your ability to recall and correctly spell the terms.
Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.