Why Medical Terminology?

Med Term PicOne things students often struggle with at SCC (really at any place of medical training) is medical terminology. I agree it can be a struggle, but if you are going to work in the medical field you are going to have to master it, or at least get pretty familiar and comfortable with it.

Granted at times its use smacks of an attempt to sound like the” Great and Powerful Oz” and I tell students that much of its use hearkens back to the time when Physicians were members of the priestly class and attempted to impress with barely intelligible words. Nonetheless, sometimes it is useful. I’d admit that “erythrocyte” is really no more useful than “red blood cell”, but certainly “electrocardiogram” is handier to use than “a drawing of the electrical activity of your heart”.

All of our students encounter, and tangle with, medical terminology. We give them tips, pointers, and clues so that they can decode the words. We drill them and they drill themselves to acquire the new vocabulary. We test them to see how much they are retaining and let them know how much they will need to work to make medical terminology their own. But, ultimately, it pays off. It comes easier, it gels in their mind, they begin to use the “big” words. They get better with their pronunciation and use.

Then we teach them to avoid the use of medical terminology when speaking with their patients, because it most often impedes communication.

Doesn’t hardly seem fair, does it?

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