Carter, MS, LAc
Brian is the founder of the
Pulse of Oriental Medicine. He teaches medical terminology
at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, practices
acupuncture and herbs in San Diego, California, and
is the author of Powerful Body,
Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and
Acupressure (November, 2004).
Why I Love Teaching my Medical Terminology Class
Yes indeedy, I teach a medical terminology class in the
Masters program at the Pacific
College of Oriental Medicine. And I love doing that for three
- I'm a writer and I love words
- I'm a medical
professional who likes to integrate alternative medicine
with western medical science
- It could be a deadly boring topic, so I get to use my public
speaking skills to jazz it up and keep it interesting.
Student Resource and Free Medical Terminology Class Online
This page will double as the place for my students to get the
handouts and resources they need for medical terminology class,
plus, this semester I will be taping my lectures, and I'll put
some of them online here so that eventually it will be an entire
free medical terminology class online.
Our text is The Language of Medicine (Get
it at Amazon.com).
What's the point of your Medical Terminology class?
The most important thing in medical terminology is to learning
to decode western medical words. I can only teach you a limited
number of medical terms. It's better if I teach you how to take
medical terms apart and figure out or at least make an educated
guess. So, the words you do learn will mostly be examples to teach
you how to take medical terms apart. You'll try this on scientific
abstracts, medical case studies, and so on.
Why is Western Medical Terminology so important?
Even if you are an alternative medicine practitioner, your patients
will see a Western medicine doctor at some point. Not only may
you need to read their medical records, or communicate with the
Western doctor, but the patients themselves may expect you to
understand these words.
Medical Terminology Online in Research Abstracts
Also interesting to acupuncturists, there is quite a bit of acupuncture
and herb research out there, and you can't benefit from it, or
help your patients based on it, if you can't read it. For example,
check out these acupuncture research
Why do we have a special language for medicine?
- Efficiency: As you'll see soon enough on the worksheets,
medical terminology can pack a lot of information into fewer
letters, fewer syllables.
- Accuracy: Paying attention to the specific meaning
of special words increases the accuracy of our communication.
When we're dealing with someone else's health, a miscommunication
can easily be harmful. We have a responsibility to know how
to say what we mean, and understand what other medical professionals
- Propriety: At least in the past, it was sometimes thought
inappropriate to tell a patient the whole truth about their
condition (that's less than unfashionable now), though you might
need to speak to a colleague with the patient present, which
you could do with a special medical terminology.
- Power: Sometimes the history of Western medicine is
told in terms of power, and medical terminology is described
as a secret knowledge with which physicians gained power. I've
heard personal anecdotes about medical training in which physicians
were chided for using regular language instead of medical terminology.
The word language comes from the Latin, lengua,
which means tongue. A glossary is a dictionary, and the
word glossary comes from the Greek for tongue, glosso.
So what? (you may ask) Hey now, if you don't think that's interesting,
you're going to have a tough time learning this stuff!
Let's try again. Isn't it cool that the words for a culture's
words and the a collection of words and their meanings both come
from the Latin and Greek for tongue?? Yeah, that's what I
Next: Medical Terminology Class Online Part
Word Structure, Roots, Suffixes, and Prefixes