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Understanding medical lingo

Specializes in hospice, ortho,clinical review.

Hello all!

Perhaps this is a no brainer but here goes. Does anyone (or did anyone for the seasoned vets) feel intimidated by the medical lingo? Besides all the normal fears of starting down this fascinating path, I keep coming back to my fear of even being able to pronounce the diseases/medications! I did a search on this as to not embarrass myself beforehand, but I couldn't find anyone that has questioned this.

First, a little about myself. I am a second career jumper. Currently I work in the travel industry for 20 plus years, and I've never been truly happy or satisfied. In a way, I figure that it's been a good training ground for nursing because in travel, you always have to have a high adrenline charge for so-called emergencies, but they are usually the variety of missed flights and the all important "WHY am I sitting in a center seat??" :rolleyes: I could scream for how many times I have to hear that complaint, and I want to say...complain about something "real". Maybe I am kidding myself, but I feel I can work with patient's complaints because they are fear-based. I'm tired of having a high adreneline charge for virtually "nothing".

I was lead to this path in an odd way. First, I should mention that I NEVER thought of becoming a nurse. I can still hear my mom echoing "don't be a nurse" b/c I usually showed little in compassion. My thing was always "buck up and deal with it, it could be worse"...or "be thankful for what you have" I am a divorced with one 12 year old son and even when he'd get small cuts and bruises, I'd look at it and say "eh..not that bad, deal with it!" You see I didn't want to raise a pansy.

I always felt like I was missing something since I didn't pursue the college route, but to be honest, I never thought I had what it took. I once wanted to be a marine biologist, but that's the closest that I came to thinking of a medical career. I was put down by my school counslers...but I also didn't really apply myself...and well I'm sure you know the rest.

Fast forward to 9/11 I was laid off and had 3 months to figure my new path. During that time, we had a sick Golden Retriever who couldn't urinate on his own. My son and I inserted a cath 4x day for 3mos to no avail, (the vet gave him a "female" incision to be able to do this, and taught me how to insert and draw out his urine) We still ended up having to put him down 3 days after Christmas in 2001. We then in January got a "rescue" Siberian that was scheduled to be euthanized b/c she was found running free. You might say we rescued each other. My mom said that whole experience changed me, I became more compassionate through a dog. I love dogs... always have, but I never dreamed I could learn an important life lesson through one. I have to say looking back, during that time I felt like I was really "doing something" I didn't think about it at the time, I just wanted him to get better, but it wasn't meant to be, but I can see how that feeling of doing something that felt significant has led me to this point.

The next life altering event was my dad passing away from a brain aneurysm suddenly in Nov 2003. Now even though I've always believed that "this" isn't it...that we go on to our "true" home as it were, and this isn't the big picture, just a stepping stone, well it really started to come together for me to question more, "why am I here?" I did a book study during early summer called "Purpose Driven Life" and honestly I started to not mind my job, b/c as much as I always wrestled with "there's got to be something more" I realized it really doesn't matter what you do...as long as you do it with a servant's heart.

We always spent summers at Nags Head growing up, and as sort of a remberence to my dad, we started going back. When I came back from vacation last summer I was so sad. I wanted to move to OBX something fierce, so again I started to think of career paths that would lead me there. As it usually does, the sadness eventually left from being back home and getting back in the groove. However shortly afterward I started being bothered by the same feelings that I am not happy doing what I am doing, plus the very real threat of the extra money that I receive for child support would run out in 6 years. But you need to understand that I come from the place that what needs to be provided for will...if you have faith, things just always inevitably work out for the best.

So I started doing another search on possible career avenues and that's when it hit!!!! Nursing. It never even occured to me, but then I saw that we are in a crisis, and especially here in Pittsburgh, we have an abundance of the elderly whom I would love to work with (I just love their stories) For me, and you can roll your eyes if you want, it all comes down to being able to answer the question at the end of time "what did you do for my people?" and as corny as it sounds, I need to have an answer for that. I do not believe everyone does or should, but I think it's been placed on my heart for a reason. I am far from a saint, just trying to do my part and help someone else in the world, b/c that's why we're here. If we could do it on our own, we wouldn't need anyone else, but there would be no point. Okay I really am not trying to go into a "share the love moment" here! :chuckle

Anyway since last fall I went through near panic attacks thinking "am I doing the right thing?" Well much to my amazement I had a ball. I've gotten through 2 pre-req's and working on my 3rd (psychology) all with a 4.0! I'm very proud of that being I work 40 hours plus raise my son completely on my own, his dad only choose limited time on some weekend...but that would be ANOTHER thread...and I choose not to bore you! I am loving school this time around perhaps that comes with age, as I turned 40 last fall and life couldn't be better. The more that I'm following this path, the more it just feels 'right' ...I am falling in love with nursing the more that I read. I am loving the science aspect of it, I find it utterly fascinating and math....go figure it's now one of my favorite subjects b/c I find they are like little puzzles! That was always grounded in the fact that I had an awesome math teacher that really made it "click" after all these years, she took the time and it showed.

Sooooo I do apologize for the length of this, but I'm wondering b/c of my fear that keeps creeping up...will I truly understand the lingo w/o it getting all twisted on my tongue? It just seems so overwhelming to think I will really be able to say all those terms eloquently and with speed. I'll read posts that talk about something specific and it sometimes frightens me that I won't "get it"...then of course my son chimes in with "that's why you're going to school mom"...that and "don't worry about tomorrow...tomorrow will take care of itself!!!"....yeah he's a pretty fun 12 year old....we keep each other laughing...and he's a far from a saint too...but he's a pretty good kid...esp for what he's had to go through.

Thanks in advance for reading/responding.

Take care

Edited by sirI

The best advice I can think of is to purchase a book or attend a medical terminology course. Medical terminology can be hard, but think of each word in terms of prefix, root word, and suffix.

examples:

ology= the study of

nephro= kidney

pan=all or total

osteo=bone

cyto=cell

leuko=white

best wishes!

a=absent

hepato=liver

Best wishes!

A good course in medical terminology is beyond priceless. I still use its principles today to understand new terms/concepts as an experienced nurse.

Even if you have to pay for it yourself (as I did cause it was not a course requirement in my program), DO IT. Take med term. You wont' regret it.

sddlnscp

Specializes in NICU.

I am going to be taking a medical terminology course this fall, I too am a pre-nursing student working on prereqs. The Med. Term. course is not required, but I think it will be very beneficial, and the plus is that my junior college offers it online - it is worth 2 credits. You might check with your school to see if they offer anything like that (either campus or online depending on your schedule), and it's not so many credits that it's rediculously expensive. I believe the book is going to cost a little less than $100.00 for the course on top of the tuition fees. Good luck, I have the same fears that you do - hopefully we will make it. ;)

eltrip

Specializes in Clinical Risk Management.

A good course in medical terminology is beyond priceless. I still use its principles today to understand new terms/concepts as an experienced nurse.

Even if you have to pay for it yourself (as I did cause it was not a course requirement in my program), DO IT. Take med term. You wont' regret it.

Ditto!

Kitty Hawk, ADN, RN

Specializes in hospice, ortho,clinical review.

Yikes!!! really???

Wow, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but there's no other way than taking the course? I have no clue how I will fit it in. I have my classes very planned in hopes of getting to the core classes in 2007, and only having to focus on them.

Can I self teach myself with a book or something? I'm a quick study, and I'm basically teaching myself Psych b/c it's a VCR class and the teacher is useless! Plus I do have a list of roots/prefix/suffix info so I'm sort of familiar with the idea that a good many words have latin roots etc...It's just putting it all together!

I do however appreciate true guidance here, I want to succeed and am willing to do what it takes. So if I gotta figure a way to take med terminolgy...so be it, I'll look earnestly into it...however I have my doubts at my school, they don't even have a nutrition course, but since I worked onsite at GNC for one of my travel gigs...those folks taught me a wealth of nutrition info, plus I read on my own.

Thanks again...you guys are awesome.

Edited by sirI

Michelle, I just finished a medical terminology class which was a prereq for my community college. We used the book "Exploring medical language" by Myrna LaFleur Brooks. Maybe you could pick one up cheap from Amazon or something like that, and work through it. I think it was a very helpful workbook. Good luck!:)

I think a terminology class would be great, and would greatly benefit anyone, but I don't think you will necessarily need it. I've been a nurse a while, but I remember in our earliest nursing classes, we were taught the meaning of the prefixes, root words, and suffixes of medical terminology. A book you can study on your own should be sufficient, if you feel you need more. You sound like a person that will grasp the info quickly. Bravo on your 4.0's! You sound like you will make a wonderful nurse.

Ok well if you don't want to take the course, then get a book and go thru the exercises in it. I know it sounds petty, but it will help you immeasureably in nursing, believe me.

Hi Michele(and everyone else),

First of all, CONGRATS!!! Kudos!!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story! WOW! Secondly, I am sorry, but I have to admit that medical terminology(and in general, medicine/nursing, etc.) comes "naturally" to me. I guess it's because I LOVE learning in general, but esp. about the profession, and I also think having medical conditions, faced surgeries, had one particular family member with an EXTENSIVE medical history---my Dad, etc., well...I had/have had no problems. *SIGH* Anyway...LOL(Laugh Out Loud) "about having the adrenaline for nothing"; I agree that that "previous experience" will help, you'll see. I had an Alaskan Malamute that was DUMB AS BRICKS! He wound up chasing a hang glider and getting run over by a neighbor. *SIGH* Poor, dumb mutt. LOL.

Awww, OMG! I'm glad your doggie experience made a world of difference and changed you! WOW! That is truly AMAZING! ;-)

I also was put down by *one* of my school counselors(who else---SENIOR and she told me that my GPA wasn't good enough---OK, so I only had a 2.84---and pretty much told me that I wouldn't amount to anything either; my Mom had had hers tell her the same thing, but my Mom was(is) an academic scholar---both parents actually were academic scholars/have VERY high IQs; Dad passed away 10/3/03). I applied myself for the most part, yet, I have regrets/wish I would have taken harder classes and more classes my senior year. I guess I got a touch of "senior-itis"...LOL.

I'm SO sorry about your Dad! (((((HUGS!)))))! That's one thing we have in common. *SIGH* I know how hard it was. It's still hard for *me*. Harder in A LOT of ways...he'll never see me get married, have kids, etc.(in the PHYSICAL sense, which people STILL can't understand---DANG IT!).

OMG!! Cool! Nags Head is a GREAT place to be! *SIGH* Last time I went to the Outer Banks was in 8th grade. I live in NC and have been a LIFELONG resident, and will ALWAYS be a lifelong resident(just not of where I live now---my ultimate goal *and* DREAM! is to work and live in Chapel Hill---Go HEELS!;-P).

I'm so glad you're enjoying your "journey", your pre-reqs., that you have good teachers, etc.! I have ALWAYS hated Math, struggled with it, etc.(and that's something my parents found hard to believe, even with my two siblings included, b/c they both minored in Math in college), and still do. It's somewhat sad that at the age of eight or nine, you realize you'll never get Math/AKWAYS struggle with it, etc. I had one good Math teacher in H.S.(my 1st Math teacher in H.S. actually, Algebra I and even then, you could take the course as "Algebra IA and IB", which simply meant that it was split over two semesters). Ironically enough, she's here at my college teaching Pre-Algebra/Algebra I/Algebra II courses.

Yes, with patience, good resources, etc., *you* WILL understand medical terminology! LOL! (((((HUGS!!)))))! Take your time, break it down, etc. Your son is absolutely RIGHT! This is why you went to school: to LEARN!! LOL! ;-) Use what resources are out here/there. You've got a pretty smart and insightful kid there, Mom. LOL. I agree with those that said to sign up for a medical terminology course(or more than one course---there are those offered that "break 'em down" into two or more) *or* you could buy a book/tape and learn yourself, but I think I'd go the course-taught route;-). Good luck, keep us posted, etc.!

Erin

P.S. I LOVE your name! It's SO rare to find your spelling;-) I guess I'm "fond" of it b/c it's my middle name;-P. LOL. Oh, and another piece of advice that I’d like to give you re: learning medical terminology, and also for when you get into nursing school: FLASHCARDS! Put the word on one side and the definition on the other side(on index cards---ANY size will do---and you can even punch holes in them, and “string” them together with a metal ring, that way they’ll stay together). You can also put them in a shoe box or buy an index card holder box(that’s an alternative to the metal ring). Feel free to e-mail me if you want to ask questions or just talk!

Kitty Hawk, ADN, RN

Specializes in hospice, ortho,clinical review.

Thank you!

Great tips...I will definitely look into that book by LaFleur. I think that will help.

Sometimes I still can't believe I'm doing this, b/c everyonce in awhile my son will come to me with "something" ...the latest was poison ivy and he said "what is this?"...and I just have to tease him and make a mock digusted face and say "I don't know, what IS that???" He just shakes his head and tells me what a really great nurse I'll be :chuckle actually he's rather proud. He's a cool inspiration, I'm really lucky.

Anyway, even though I can't believe I'm on this ride...I'm so excited to be here. Thanks for the welcomes and "hugs"...appreciate all.

Edited by sirI

I forgot to mention that the "Exploring Medical Language" came with flash cards and cassettes to help you with pronunciation. Hope this helps:)

Kim

Edited by sirI

You'll get it, it comes with time.....I remeber reading pt's chart info my first placement and going WTF?? It'll come...the key is those suffix's, prefixes...I never took a course, nor did any of my classmates...we made it...so can you!!

Yes, you can "make it" w/o taking med-term--- but believe me, nursing and in particular, pathophysiology will come MUCH more quickly and easily when you study it. It breaks down all the suffixes, prefixes, etc. in a way that makes it easy for you to determine what just about anything means just by analyzing it. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken medical terminology before my sciences like A/P, micro and chem.

I personally am lazy---I admit it. I want to learn how to do thing most expiditiously and quickly and found med term evened out the learning curve very well for me. There are lots of good med term books out there. You can go to your university book store and see what they have on hand, as well. Or, just do a search at a place like half.com (to pay a bit less). Or, even buy a book from someone who took the course before at a fraction of the cost.

It will be worth the time you invest to learn med term now. Good luck!

Kitty Hawk, ADN, RN

Specializes in hospice, ortho,clinical review.

Hi Kim,

I think I found the book, is it "a student directed approach"? I found it at amazon for about 51.00, so that's not too bad when it's my future we're talking about! It'll have to wait until fall, when I get my funds in from student aid! I will also search for less expensive, but I would like the tapes and flash cards, the tapes would be great to pop in on my morning commute to work. I know what you guys mean about flash cards. I made my own for Psych and they were indispensible (I even pulled them out during breaks at my son's spring concert!)

SmilingBluEyes Thanks for the welcome and I know what you mean about wanting to do things quickly. I'm taking Bio in the fall and I have a bio demystified book that I want to read on my break between summer and fall (4 weeks) so I'm not going into that class totally "cold". I'm one that almost prefers to take these classes as refreshers...I am always afraid the class will move to fast for me and then I'll get lost, I do make sure that I do understand, otherwise I badger with questions, I am paying for this and I want to understand!

Thanks much

Edited by sirI

What a great story. I used to feel the same way you did...I thought I would never be able to pronounce/remember all those crazy words, but after taking A&P I, and now that I am taking A&P II, I am becoming much more confident that I will be able to do it. I've still got a loooong way to go, but I know now that I can do it. I believe that the more you learn the more confidence that you will gain. Good luck :)

Edited by sirI

Hi Michele(and everyone else),

First of all, CONGRATS!!! Kudos!!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story! WOW! Secondly, I am sorry, but I have to admit that medical terminology(and in general, medicine/nursing, etc.) comes "naturally" to me. I guess it's because I LOVE learning in general, but esp. about the profession, and I also think having medical conditions, faced surgeries, had one particular family member with an EXTENSIVE medical history---my Dad, etc., well...I had/have had no problems. *SIGH* Anyway...LOL(Laugh Out Loud) "about having the adrenaline for nothing"; I agree that that "previous experience" will help, you'll see. I had an Alaskan Malamute that was DUMB AS BRICKS! He wound up chasing a hang glider and getting run over by a neighbor. *SIGH* Poor, dumb mutt. LOL.

Awww, OMG! I'm glad your doggie experience made a world of difference and changed you! WOW! That is truly AMAZING! ;-)

I also was put down by *one* of my school counselors(who else---SENIOR and she told me that my GPA wasn't good enough---OK, so I only had a 2.84---and pretty much told me that I wouldn't amount to anything either; my Mom had had hers tell her the same thing, but my Mom was(is) an academic scholar---both parents actually were academic scholars/have VERY high IQs; Dad passed away 10/3/03). I applied myself for the most part, yet, I have regrets/wish I would have taken harder classes and more classes my senior year. I guess I got a touch of "senior-itis"...LOL.

I'm SO sorry about your Dad! (((((HUGS!)))))! That's one thing we have in common. *SIGH* I know how hard it was. It's still hard for *me*. Harder in A LOT of ways...he'll never see me get married, have kids, etc.(in the PHYSICAL sense, which people STILL can't understand---DANG IT!).

OMG!! Cool! Nags Head is a GREAT place to be! *SIGH* Last time I went to the Outer Banks was in 8th grade. I live in NC and have been a LIFELONG resident, and will ALWAYS be a lifelong resident(just not of where I live now---my ultimate goal *and* DREAM! is to work and live in Chapel Hill---Go HEELS!;-P).

I'm so glad you're enjoying your "journey", your pre-reqs., that you have good teachers, etc.! I have ALWAYS hated Math, struggled with it, etc.(and that's something my parents found hard to believe, even with my two siblings included, b/c they both minored in Math in college), and still do. It's somewhat sad that at the age of eight or nine, you realize you'll never get Math/AKWAYS struggle with it, etc. I had one good Math teacher in H.S.(my 1st Math teacher in H.S. actually, Algebra I and even then, you could take the course as "Algebra IA and IB", which simply meant that it was split over two semesters). Ironically enough, she's here at my college teaching Pre-Algebra/Algebra I/Algebra II courses.

Yes, with patience, good resources, etc., *you* WILL understand medical terminology! LOL! (((((HUGS!!)))))! Take your time, break it down, etc. Your son is absolutely RIGHT! This is why you went to school: to LEARN!! LOL! ;-) Use what resources are out here/there. You've got a pretty smart and insightful kid there, Mom. LOL. I agree with those that said to sign up for a medical terminology course(or more than one course---there are those offered that "break 'em down" into two or more) *or* you could buy a book/tape and learn yourself, but I think I'd go the course-taught route;-). Good luck, keep us posted, etc.!

Erin

P.S. I LOVE your name! It's SO rare to find your spelling;-) I guess I'm "fond" of it b/c it's my middle name;-P. LOL. Oh, and another piece of advice that I'd like to give you re: learning medical terminology, and also for when you get into nursing school: FLASHCARDS! Put the word on one side and the definition on the other side(on index cards---ANY size will do---and you can even punch holes in them, and "string" them together with a metal ring, that way they'll stay together). You can also put them in a shoe box or buy an index card holder box(that's an alternative to the metal ring). Feel free to email me if you want to ask questions or just talk!

http://ec.hku.hk/mt/ I found this Website about teaching yourself Medical Terminology. I am also trying to learn it - going to schl. in Sept. I hope it works for you. Good Luck

Kitty Hawk, ADN, RN

Specializes in hospice, ortho,clinical review.

SKUKRY!...that's an awesome site...thanks so much, I've bookmarked it. I love to supplement books with websites. I'm doing just that with my Psych course..however even though I'm doing well in this class, when I take the on-line test, I sometimes feel dumb as bricks! Maybe it's because they're not touching on the same things my book is.

ILS...I LOVE SCRUBS TOO!!! Even though where I work we can be completely casual, I'm looking forward to being able to wear those comfy looking scrubs.

Erin, I'm sorry about your dad, but please remember even though it's hard to realize that he won't be there for the big events, this isn't the big picture, this time will all go by in a blink of the eye and then you'll be together again to never be seperated from those you love. Death is part of life. It's true the older you get, the faster time goes by, and you have to make the most of it while you're here. Life really is precious and short. It does matter what we do here and how we can try to help others, but it's certainly not the end all be all. My mom had a stillborn before me, and she sometimes still cries b/c she doesn't understand why she was taken away...Now I can explain to her that she never really lost her, yes she lost her here on earth, but not where it will truly matter, she's just on the "other side"...she'll see her one day. Ooookay I'm getting far to deep here for a Friday morning...back to work I go.

Take care all I am touched by your kindess and help, I feel much better armed with some good tips and references.

Edited by sirI

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