Easy Ways to Learn Medical Terminology

Medical professionals use medical terminology in their work every day.
i Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Whether you dream of becoming a medical assistant or a neurosurgeon, you won't get very far if you don't know your patella from your pituitary gland. Learning medical terminology can feel a lot like learning a foreign language, but you'll have to do it if you want to pursue any career in the medical field. Fortunately, tools exist to help you memorize the terms and get ahead in your career, and they're affordable and accessible.


    One of the most efficient ways to learn medical terminology is to take a course. Some colleges offer online courses in medical terminology at little or no cost. These include quizzes, worksheets and other helpful resources. Typically, online courses in medical terminology are self-paced, making it easy for you to fit study time into your busy life. These courses don't result in a degree of any kind, but you may receive a certificate of completion once you've finished all of the lessons. Before you know it, you'll have no trouble at all remembering what a cholelithotomy is or pointing out the trachea.

Flash Cards

    Flash cards help students memorize key facts, and they may be useful in helping you master medical terms. You can purchase, download or make your own flash cards inexpensively and use them alone or combine them with another learning method. For example, you could use flash cards to refresh your memory while taking a course in medical terminology. Turn studying into a bonding experience by having your spouse go over the flashcards with you for a few minutes every day to test how much information you're retaining.

Mnemonic Memorization

    Mnemonic memorization is a technique that involves memorizing a phrase or word to help you recall a specific medical term. For example, to help you remember the features of REM sleep, R would stand for rapid pulse and respiratory rate, E would stand for erection and M would stand for mental activity increase and muscular paralysis. You can access the World's Database of Medical Mnemonics online for no cost. There you'll find hundreds of mnemonic memorization cues to help you learn the terms.


    If you're self-disciplined and prefer to learn things on your own, you could purchase books about medical terminology and develop your own system of study. You can easily find medical dictionaries and workbooks in the reference section of most bookstores and libraries, or you can download books to your computer, e-reader or phone. You might be able to learn everything you need to from books, or you can use books to supplement your education while utilizing other learning tools, such as mnemonic memorization or course work.

the nest