Medical Assistants: Easy Tips to Learn Medical Terminology 

medical assistant cards
medical assistant cards

Medical Assistants: Easy Tips to Learn Medical Terminology 

One of the most important skills you will learn while training to become a Medical Assistant is learning medical terminology and phrases. Not only do you need to know what they are and how to pronounce them, but you must also know quickly and with accuracy what they mean! As a Medical Assistant, you will need to provide correct and efficient care for your patients. Part of that skill is knowing the terms that medical professionals use every day.

While working with patients, you will be responsible for discussing their medical histories, taking their vital signs, and walking them through procedures. Leaning this new medical language might seem a bit tricky, but here are some tips to help you on your way:

Building Blocks of Medical Terminology

Memorizing medical terminology can get much easier when you break it down into building blocks. Does it sound like a foreign language? It kind of is! Most medical terms come from the Latin or Greek language and contain a prefix, root, and suffix. Prefixes come before the root, and suffixes come after the root.

Once you learn each of the blocks, it will become easier to figure out what a word means, even if you’ve never seen it before. Learn some common prefixes, roots, and suffixes, and build from there!

Let’s break down the word “pericarditis”: 

peri + card + itis

(prefix) (root) (suffix)

around heart inflammation

Flashcards for Medical Terminology

Go “old school” and learn new terms and their definitions with flashcards! This is a tried-and-true memorization technique that can be used any time you have a spare moment to study: before bed, waiting for a Zoom class, or before an appointment. Digital flashcards can also be available on your phone through study apps like flashcards for medicine, medical terms and abbreviations, and StudyDroid.

Connect Medical Terms to Images

An excellent association technique is to connect the new medical term to an image in your head. Picture each word and make it as detailed as you can. Imprint it into your brain. The cool thing is that the word doesn’t even need to resemble the picture in your head. If your mind immediately goes to a cannon firing into the air when you hear the root “blast,” that’s fine. Since the root “blast” means immature cells, just picture that cannonball as a bundle of baby cells. That can help you decode a word like neuroblastoma which breaks down to nerves/immature cells/tumor. So, the word means a tumor made up of immature cells affecting the nerves. Studies have shown that learning new vocabulary through visual imagery can improve retention up to 330% compared to just using a textbook.

Get Creative with Medical Terminology Bingo!

Want to have fun while studying with a friend? Create your own Bingo game with a grid of terms you want to learn and a stack of cards with definitions on them. The best part of this game is that you can play with people who have little or no background in healthcare. You’ll learn while you teach your friends and family.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race to Remember Medical Terminology

It’s too frustrating and overwhelming to learn too many new terms at once, so slow it down and aim for 5-7 vocabulary words each week. Once the first set is memorized, move onto the next, but be sure to review previous weeks, so you don’t forget!


Are you interested in starting a rewarding career as a Medical Assistant?

The journey to becoming a Medical Assistant is challenging and rewarding. Choose a Medical Assistant program that will prepare you with the skills you need to succeed. At YTI Career Institute, our Medical Assistant program in York can provide you with the hard and soft skills you’ll need to be a successful member of a healthcare team. Request more information today!