The 3 Basics of Medical Terminology

An integral part of being a successful medical transcriptionist is understanding medical terminology. Let’s face it, learning medical terminology is a lot like learning a foreign language. It may be even more difficult than reading a doctor’s handwriting or trying to decipher shorthand! However, in all seriousness, if you want to excel in the medical field, specifically as a medical transcriptionist, taking a course in medical terminology is a must. But before you enroll, let’s take a closer look at the three basic components of medical terminology.

First, we explain that this breakdown is done in three parts. Each part holds its own specific section making it easier to identify these words. CancerIndex explains that this method of terminology can appear complex at first glance. This explanation can make it clearer. At Fast Chart, it is essential that we understand each part of this process to inform accurate transcribing for medical professionals.

3 Basic Components of Medical Terminology

  1. Root Word

The first step to medical terminology to understand is the root word. A root word is the most basic part of the word. If you remove the prefixes or suffixes from the word, you are left with what is known as the root. Take the word “unfriendly” for example. If you remove the prefix of “un” and the suffix of “ly”, you are left with the root word friend. The root word is the central meaning of the word that does not change based on the prefixes or suffixes that are added.

  1. Prefix Changes

Second, you will go into understanding the prefix changes and the purpose they serve. As outlined above, a prefix can be added to a word to alter its meaning. Just like the prefix of “un” changes friendly to unfriendly, the same applies to medical terminology. Medical prefixes include words such as myo which means muscle, eri which refers to outer, or endo which means inner, although the list is extensive. 

  1. Suffix Changes

Lastly, suffix changes are the final step to understanding the creation of medical terminology. Much like a prefix, a suffix is added to the end of the root word to change the meaning. In most cases, the suffix modifies what or who is interacting with the word or what is happening to the word. For example, the suffix “itis” means inflammation. So a person suffering from tonsillitis is suffering from inflammation of the tonsil. This may even cause you to look at some words differently than before. 

Breaking medical terminology down by root word, prefix, and a suffix is a simpler way to understand what the word is describing. However, hang onto your hat, there are many medical terms to learn. When working with the human body, it can seem overwhelming to understand all of them. This is a great way to start becoming more aware and make it easier to take in information. Once you get the hang of things, you will be speaking the language of doctors in no time. It might even be the time to consider a career in transcription! 

Learn More About Fast Chart

At Fast Chart, our medical transcription team are experts in medical terminology. Understanding medical terminology is crucial in successful and error-free transcription. For this reason, Fast Chart is a 100% US-based company, meaning that language barriers will never interfere with the success of our transcriptions. We are here to make your lives easier and clearer for everyone. For more information on our services, or if you are interested in a career in medical transcription, contact us today! We will be happy to answer any questions and provide further resources when needed. 

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