Learning The Language of Medicine


Read it, write it, SPEAK it

Learning the language of medicine is like learning any other; you need to read it, write it, and SPEAK it…at least, that’s my take on it.

When you learn a language like Russian or Japanese or Spanish, you are taught to read it and write it, as we are taught to do with our medical language too. However, you also immerse yourself in it and you speak it a lot; you’re encouraged to talk the new language whenever you can and say “hello” and “goodbye” and “what’s your name?” in the new language, right? You are encouraged to “wrap your tongue” around that unfamiliar language just as quickly as possible and as often as possible right from the start.

Learning medical terms can be just like learning a different language. This point is more obvious when you realize that a large number of those medical words are actually derived from another language. No wonder they seem daunting at times! Especially when you get dictations from Dr Mumbles or the Auctioneer (or if you’re really lucky, Dr Mumbles the Auctioneer).

Medical Transcription/Healthcare Documentation is often taught in such a way that we put the words in front of you (visual) and give you dictations to hear (auditory) and expect that the language will click for you. What we don’t do is tell you to speak it (oral), but I’m suggesting that you do just that. Our article The 7 Different Learning Styles goes into detail on the different ways we process information. For most people saying the words out loud is one of the best methods for committing it to memory.

Here in CanScribe’s Medical Transcription/Healthcare Documentation course, when you have a difficult dictation and get back one of those multicolored corrected reports (corrections and differences), try this:

  1. Do your self-assessment.
  2. Next, pull up the Answer Key so you’re looking at black and white, the actual correctly transcribed report.
  3. Sit back and put your foot on the foot pedal, headphones in, and play the dictation all the way through, listening closely while you READ THE ENTIRE REPORT quietly from beginning to end. Do this at least once, listening closely to the pronunciation of the medical terms (and hopefully the dictator is reasonably clear!).
  4. Foot off the pedal, headphones off…READ THE ENTIRE REPORT OUT LOUD, doing the best you can to properly pronounce everything in that report. Do this as many times as you’d like, and do it with the difficult reports, do it with the easy reports; you can do it with every report if you want to. The important thing is to get acclimated to wrapping your tongue around the words.

Believe it or not, when you do this regularly, you will begin to create a neural pathway in your brain that will root the language more solidly because are creating a multisensory connection, a fuller, more complete understanding of the terms, how they fit together and how they sound, how they look, AND how they feel.

Think about when you are introduced to someone for the first time. You may hear their name, even more than once, but your chances of remembering that person’s name aren’t very good. However, if you repeat their name out loud when they introduce themselves (nice to meet you Jordan) your brain is forced to think about their name and make this multisensory connection with it. You are not just hearing Jordan’s name now, you are actually visualizing it in your brain and saying it out loud. This practice is even more important with the complexity of medical words and terms.

Reading it, writing it, SPEAKING it….will make Medicine a true second language for you.

Mary Romano, CHDS, CTR, MT Instructor

Check out our graduate testimonials to discover how exciting and rewarding a career transcribing in the medical industry can be.