Why is Learning Medical Terminology Important?

Prospective students sometimes ask why learning Medical Terminology is important. Depending on the type of career you choose to pursue, having the ability to recognize and decipher complex medical terms can be a game changer. We often think of the obvious examples such as doctors, nurses, physician assistants and medical billing specialists to name a few. However, you might be surprised to learn how many other careers require a working knowledge of medical terminology.

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Medical Terms Make it Easier to Communicate Across the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare is an $800 billion market growing at 7.3% annually. Healthcare and social assistance is the largest employment segment in the U.S. employing 20 million+ people. Medical Terminology is important to healthcare professionals who work directly with patients but there are also support positions that require knowledge of the subject.

For instance, let’s think about the average family practice with 4-5 doctors and 8-10 nurses. In addition to the professionals mentioned above, these practices would typically employ medical billing and coding specialists. The responsibility for generating billing documents falls upon these employees. An understanding of medical terms helps ensure billing codes are accurate which results in more timely payments for the practice. It also allows the practice to receive the maximum payment possible for a particular service. Since payment delays are often a result of improper codes, it’s important for these professionals to understand the terminology they work with on a regular basis.

Documentation Becomes Much More Simple

After the medical billing department sends bills out for payment, an employee from the health insurance company reviews the incoming bills for accuracy and entry into their accounting system. Without understanding medical terminology, it would be difficult for these professionals to perform their responsibilities effectively. This knowledge helps people in these industries work more efficiently and effectively. Medical Terminology is a common language used to communicate complex medical data between health professionals, patients and many others.

Medical Terminology Plays an Important Role in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Let’s take a look at another industry. After the last year, we’ve all heard or read about the COVID-19 clinical trials performed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Before a drug, or vaccine is approved, it must be submitted to a rigorous clinical trial. The pharmaceutical industry regularly recruits patients into their studies. Employees tasked with qualifying patients for the trial, creating intake materials and developing trial notifications need to have a basic knowledge of medical terms to communicate the various aspects of the clinical trial.

In addition to the recruiting professionals, pharmaceutical companies also employ Clinical Data Analysts. These highly skilled professionals are responsible for verifying the data gathered during the trial period as well as reporting on the results of the clinical trials. They’re required to write reports that use terminology to communicate disease states, patient conditions, adverse events and more.

Knowing the Right Terms Keeps Everyone on the Same Page

Analysts use computer software to record and report clinical trial results which brings us to our next profession. It can be quite appealing for a programmer or front-end developer to have completed an accredited online medical terminology course. Knowledge of the subject helps employees communicate with each other effectively which helps to keep everyone focused on the same goals. Clinical Data Analysts will use the software developed by these programmers to submit reports to the FDA in the United States for drug approval and other milestones throughout the lifespan of the drug.

At the FDA you will find doctors, scientists and other health professionals who all need a working knowledge of medical terminology. Imagine how difficult it would be to read incoming reports without knowledge of medical terms. It would be virtually impossible, or at least extremely time consuming, to decipher reports and make informed decisions.

Once approval is granted a drug is ready for market. Most of the time that involves pharmaceutical sales representatives visiting doctors to promote the new drug. It’s imperative for sales representatives to be able to speak the doctor’s language. Without prior knowledge of medical terminology, the sales representative would not have the skills to discuss the target diseases that a drug is designed to address or the body systems it is intended to affect.

When a doctor prescribes a medication, they rely on a pharmacist to fill the prescription. From the pharmacist at your local Walgreens or CVS to the pharmacy assistants, it’s important that they all understand the patient’s medical conditions and the prescriptions they’re filling to recognize potential interactions before they occur.

Working in A Pharmacy

Occasionally the pharmacist will have to call the patient’s health insurance company to confirm information. They are expecting to reach an insurance professional who has knowledge of the drugs, diseases and side effects associated with the drug(s) being prescribed. All of these touch on medical terminology in some shape or form.

Learn Medical Terminology From Our Online Class

While the pharmaceutical industry provides us with several solid examples of professions where medical terminology is used, it does not end there. Every day we receive course requests from paramedics, court reporters and even tattoo artists. If a career in healthcare is something that interests you, consider an online course covering medical terms to boost your resume or meet a prerequisite. If you have any questions about how taking an online course can help you, feel free to reach out to us.

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It’s a Good Time for a Fresh Start

The past year has been a lot—at home and on the job. With the pandemic causing substantial changes to the way we live and work, that might be an understatement. But along with change comes the possibility for something new. Maybe you lost your job. Or maybe all this time at home has you contemplating a new career. If you’re looking for a work-related fresh start, here are some of our recommendations:

a person holding a small alarm clock

Update your resume. Does your resume reflect your current position and responsibilities? Make sure it clearly highlights the experience your potential employers would find useful.

Update your references. Check with the people vouching for you that they’re still on board to field calls about you and your work.

Create or update your LinkedIn profile. A current LinkedIn profile is a must as you look for a new job. You can search for jobs on LinkedIn and apply for jobs on the site when it’s an option. If you’re being considered for a job that’s not on LinkedIn, recruiters will still look at your profile to get a feel for your experience. Tip: Your LinkedIn profile should be more conversational in style than a resume.

Brush up on your interview skills. Job interviews are stressful. Going in prepared alleviates some of the stress, so practice answering common interview questions.

Prepare your technology for interviews, too. Chances are, you might have a few virtual interviews. Check your connectivity and your lighting to make sure you’re seen, literally, in the best light.

Join/subscribe to career development podcasts and career-related social media groups. They can provide helpful advice and insight on various careers, and they offer support from fellow jobseekers.

Take a course. Getting an introduction to a field you’re interested in is valuable. It can confirm you’re getting on the right career path—or let you know you’re not. Having a course under your belt can also make you more marketable. If you’re interested in the medical field, for example, our Medical Terminology or Microbiology course is an excellent first step.

With these tips, you’re ready for a fresh start. Good luck!

Email us at learn@corexcel.com to learn more.

Are You Bored With the Working From Home Thing?

If you’re like many people, you’ve been working from home for months. And you’re over it. At first, it seemed like a novelty—a chance to skip the commute and work in comfy clothes while staying safe. As the weeks went on, however, you realized it can be tough to work with spouses, kids, and pets around, and it can get awfully boring looking at the same walls.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get out of your rut and combat the boredom you might be feeling at home:

Woman yawning while at her desk

Plan a busy schedule. If you pack a lot into your workday, your mind will be focused on the tasks. Now is the time to add those often-put-off housekeeping projects, like cleaning out old emails, deleting files, and filing papers, in your schedule. Fill the gaps and avoid the lulls.

Schedule breaks. This means actually put time for breaks on your calendar. Step away from the desk. Get up and stretch. Talk to a family member in the house. Stay put and call a friend. Squeeze in a workout. The point is to use the time to focus on something other than work so you can come back to it fresh.

Change your location. If you usually work in a bedroom, try a day in the kitchen. Or the family room. Or the dining room. Just mix it up! When you feel boredom setting in, take a walk, even if it’s just around the house. A change of scenery, even if brief, goes a long way.

Pursue training opportunities. You’re not spending time going to and from work, so use the downtime to explore training your employer offers. If your employer will compensate you for taking outside classes, take advantage of that. Or, if you want to switch or advance your career, take one of our many online courses and professional certificate programs. All of these options will expand your skill set, bolster your resume, and alleviate boredom.

Set up a fun distraction. Listen to music while you work—rock, jazz, country—whatever lifts your mood. Have a favorite show playing off on the side, if it won’t distract you from work. A little bit of fun can have a big, positive effect on your day.

Working from home might be a lasting trend. Once you learn how to keep boredom at bay, it might be a trend to embrace.

Email us at learn@corexcel.com to learn more.

Choosing the Right Words in a Medical Emergency | Medical Terminology

Doctor visit a little patient at home

In emergency medical situations, quick, expert care delivered by knowledgeable professionals is critical—it saves lives. Perhaps less obviously, so do words. When a patient is triaged in an emergency setting, the patient and his or her family might not understand the medical terminology being used by medical professionals. Unfortunately, this can compromise care.

Communication between families and medical professionals can be especially difficult when English is not the family’s primary language. Family members might relay a patient’s status using words that are misinterpreted by the medical staff. In a case that drew media attention several years ago, relatives described a relative in a coma as “intoxicado.” The doctor incorrectly treated the patient for an overdose, with dire consequences. 

However, even without a language barrier, patients, and family members unfamiliar with medical terminology can misinterpret a doctor’s message. For example, “unconscious” can mean one thing to a layperson and another thing to a doctor. Even “positive or negative” is often misunderstood.     

How can the knowledge-of-medical-terminology gap be bridged? 

Medical professionals—translate complex medical jargon into easy-to-understand words for your patients. Bring in a translator when needed. Ask patients and their families if they understand what you are saying. Ask again. Clarify until you’re comfortable that you’re all on the same page. 

Patients and families—do not be shy in a medical setting. If you need a translator, request one. Be sure that doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicians clearly understand what you are conveying. Repeat it until they do. If you don’t understand what a medical professional is saying, but you’re embarrassed to admit it, speak up anyway. Your life or the life of your loved one depends on it.   

We offer a thorough, self-paced course, Online Medical Terminology. Email us at learn@corexcel.com to learn more or register.   

How Medical Terminology Can Prevent Miscommunication?

At times, the world of medicine can be affected by miscommunication, which in turn has proven to be detrimental to some patients and even fatal to others. This problem is propagated by way of poorly inscribed and mistakenly interpreted medical abbreviations that lead to misdiagnoses, inaccurate prescriptions and incorrect administration of medical dosages.

Because the expanding world of medicine has become very compartmentalized with new fields of study and specialization, many of the abbreviations and acronyms do not translate from one field to another, from one department to another and from one practitioner to another.

The Corexcel Online Medical Terminology Course is designed to update those currently active in a medical vocation and to prepare future medical professionals to use medical terminology correctly and to be aware of the top abbreviations that are misused — the exact acronyms and abbreviations that, when misused, result in negative outcomes.

The Usual Suspects

In 2004, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety issued a “Do Not Use” list comprised of the most commonly miswritten and misinterpreted medical abbreviations. At the top of this docket sits the letter “U” which is commonly used to represent “units” yet is frequently mistaken for the number “0.”

An example: In the instance of a doctor prescribing “10U” meaning that the patient should take 10 units per medication interval, the typical misreading would be “100.” This would put the patient in danger of taking a dose that is tenfold the prescribed amount. In the instance of a highly toxic painkiller such as Vicodin or Oxycodone, the results could be lethal.

An Increase in Oversight

As benign as it may seem at face value, unreadable abbreviations and misused acronyms can result in unfortunate outcomes. According to The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, it is estimated that clerical medication errors account for some 7,000 deaths per year, 81% of the mistakes occurring during the prescribing stage of the medical process.

The source above also reports that doctors are responsible for 78.5% of abbreviation errors, with nurses sharing 15.1% of the burden while a mere 6.4% of inaccuracies were penned by pharmaceutical or other staff.

Since doctors have been typecast as scrawlers of hieroglyphics, it may seem that only the most seasoned of nurses can translate. Although these miscommunications are often not the fault of the caregiver, there are cases wherein a fairly routine medical procedure became an emergency situation due to misread abbreviations or poor penmanship. Here are three such instances:

• A doctor prescribed a hydromorphone epidural for a patient, writing the script as “2 µg/mL.” It was then misunderstood by the pharmacist who labeled and prepared the patient’s prescription as “2 mg/mL.” The pattern continued with the attending nurse, who misread the label and subsequently administered a dose with a 1,000-fold variance.

The patient soon experienced difficulty breathing, was intubated and placed on mechanical ventilation along with being given additional pharmacology and chest compressions to mitigate a diminishing cardiac function. The epidural was removed and naloxone was used to reverse the toxic effects.

• An acyclovir treatment was ordered for a 62-year-old patient on hemodialysis. The order read “acyclovir (unknown dose) with HD.” The practitioner who read the order interpreted the “HD” abbreviation as TID — meaning three times daily.

Acyclovir is given intravenously, and then only once daily after hemodialysis taking into consideration the patient’s renal impairment immediately after dialysis. In this case, the patient received three doses over a two-day stretch, resulting in mental deterioration and subsequent death.

• Mid-sternal chest pain in a 53-year-old patient was diagnosed as a gastrointestinal malady. As a result of this assessment, an “MDX/GI” cocktail was prescribed — which is a compound consisting of Xylocaine® (lidocaine), Mylanta® (aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, and simethicone) and diclomine.

The patient developed labored breathing followed by respiratory distress, requiring an administration of epinephrine to reverse the symptoms. Although the patient’s allergy to lidocaine was documented, the attending physician and nursing staff were unaware that lidocaine is a key ingredient in the MDX/GI cocktail.

The danger of this abbreviation lies in its ambiguity. Although the “X” stands for lidocaine, it refers to the brand name of the drug (Xylocaine®) rather than the drug itself. Furthermore, the symbol “X” as an abbreviation has nearly a dozen different meanings in the medical vernacular.*

No matter the outcome, each case strongly supports the critical need for an ongoing education in medical terminology and a system that strives toward consistency in usage of medical abbreviations.

Not-so-straightforward solutions

Consider the remaining 6,997 cases involving similar situations that were propagated by abbreviations that were either misinterpreted or poorly written. The obvious solution would seem to be to discourage the use of the medical terms most frequently responsible for patient harm, yet doing so in a cohesive way across the breadth of all medical professions has proven to be very difficult.

Because not all practitioners have or are required to comply with a universal set of guidelines where medical abbreviations are concerned, the responsibility by default in affecting clear communication, then falls upon the shoulders of the individual medical practitioner.

Corexcel’s Online Medical Terminology Course empowers aspiring and practicing medical professionals to take control of their role in the chain of communication, be it as an attending physician, nurse, pharmacist or other vocation within the medical community.

Supporting Medical Professionals and Patient Safety

In the wake of rapid medical advancement, diversification of specialties and development of new fields of study, medical professionals can equip themselves with a comprehensive understanding of terminology, abbreviations and the most commonly miswritten and misinterpreted of both. By doing so, the results of poor communication can be diminished.

If you’re looking to strengthen and improve your communication in the medical field, contact Corexcel to learn more about our online medical terminology course. The more you learn about using and identifying the proper medical terms, the more effective and accurate you will be in preventing harm on future patients.

 

*Brunetti, Luigi, John P. Santell, and Rodney W. Hicks. “The Impact of Abbreviations on Patient Safey.” The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety 33.9 (2007): 576-80. Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Sept.-Oct. 2007. Web. May 2017.

4 Study Tips to Learn Medical Terminology

Medical Terminology is a key skill for a variety of jobs within the industry. Whether you are interested in medical transcription, billing and coding, medical administration, or clinical roles, knowing the terms will be essential for your success.

There are a variety of ways to learn this skill, but taking online courses can give you many added benefits, including the ability to learn in your own way and at your own pace. But how do you ensure that you retain this information? Here are some tips on studying medical terminology.

Medical Terminology Study Tips

  1. Student taking a medical terminology courseMake flashcards: It’s true, this old-fashioned elementary school method really works. Why? Because the human brain learns by visual cues, looking at the word to recall the definition can help train your brain for memorization. You can purchase medical terminology flashcards, but making them yourself will also help you learn the words and their definitions and retain them for the long term.
  1. Record yourself: Simply speaking and hearing medical terminology out loud can also help you learn. One simple trick is to record yourself saying these medical terms and their definitions. The act of recording them will create aural flashcards. Listening to your recording will help you remember the words when you come across them in your reading.
  1. Make it a game: Medical educators are learning about the benefits of gamification to aid in learning difficult concepts. Games can offer an enjoyable alternative for engaging your brain. These games are most effective when they are developed with task oriented learning in mind and a scoring system to keep track of advancement. Many online courses offer games an interactive activities to make the learning process more enjoyable for the student. You may also find apps for your smart phone or tablet that can help add gamification to your study program.
  1. Memorize root words: Medical terminology is based on Latin and Greek root words. Understanding the word parts will help you understand complex medical terms. Often knowing part of a word will help you figure out the meaning of the entire word. For instance, knowing that “bronch” is the root for terms related to the respiratory system, makes it easier to understand that “bronchial” or “bronchitis” is also related to the lungs or breathing.

Have you considered learning medical terminology to advance your career? There are many exciting jobs that require medical terminology as a prerequisite.

Begin Learning Medical Terminology Today

Corexcel offers a fully accredited, self-paced online medical terminology course that includes interactive study experiences, audio pronunciations and video animations.