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How do you learn medical terms?

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Quick Answer

Some ways to learn and remember medical terms are by using mnemonic devices, looking up words in a medical dictionary, drilling with flashcards, playing games such as medical term bingo, and learning the Greek and Latin roots of the words. To commit terminology to long-term memory, it is important not to cram, but to set smaller goals, such as learning five to seven new terms each week.

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Full Answer

A medical term typically consists of three parts: a prefix, a root word and a suffix. Many of these components are derived from Greek and Latin words. Breaking words down and learning the pieces reduces the amount of information you need to memorize. It also makes it easier to deduce the meanings of unfamiliar terms. In the term "subhepatic," for example, "sub" means "below," "hepat" is the root for "liver," and "ic" means "pertaining to," so "subhepatic" pertains to things situated below the liver.

Mnemonic devices can be helpful in memorizing difficult medical terms. If, for example, you were trying to remember that the name for the jawbone is "mandible," you could picture the character He-man with two jaws side-by-side. This gives you the visual clue "man double" and associates it with the jawbone. The more unusual and specific the image is, the easier it is to remember. The website MedicalMnemonics.com has thousands of free mnemonics contributed by medical students.

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