Medical Terminology Class Online
Updated October 11, 2004


Hey, this is Brian Carter, founder of  I've been writing to regular folks about alternative medicine solutions for the last 5 years now, and we've reached more than 300,000 people around the world.  
My first book, Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure will be published by the end of November.  I literally can't wait to talk to you about it and answer your questions!  That's why I'm starting a series of Teleseminars.  These are phone conference presentations that everyone calls into.  I'll speak on a topic like 'Boosting Your Energy' or 'Introduction to Acupuncture', and then, answer questions from the audience.
Right now you can help me decide which topics to do first - just fill out the survey on this page.  Then, if you want us to contact you later, click on the email link under my black and white photo to tell us.  I look forward to meeting you and working with you!
Brian Carter's Healing Teleseminars

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Medical Terminology Online Class
by Brian Benjamin 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 reasons:

  1. I'm a writer and I love words
  2. I'm a medical professional who likes to integrate alternative medicine with western medical science
  3. 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 Online Class

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

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 resources.

Tongues a-Waggin'

Why do we have a special language for medicine?

  1. Efficiency: As you'll see soon enough on the worksheets, medical terminology can pack a lot of information into fewer letters, fewer syllables.
  2. 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 mean.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 thought.

Next (coming soon): Medical Terminology Online Class Part I:
Word Structure, Roots, Suffixes, and Prefixes

Also see: Medical Terminology Online Resources

About The PULSE
All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.

Copyright 1999-2074, Pulse Media International, Brian Carter, MSci, LAc, Editor