Medical Terminology

Study medical language online, to understand how medical words are constructed, and the meaning of medical terms; professional and career development as a foundation to work as a medical receptionist or health support job.

Course Code: BSC109
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Medical Terminology Training Distance Learning Course.

Study medical terminology to improve your job and career prospects in the field of medicine and health. Or study for your own interest. 

  • Learn to decipher a medical term; breaking down it's components, to understand it's meaning.
  • Improve your opportunity to work in a medical support position (e.g. front desk for a health practitioner).
  • Expand your knowledge of human biology and health science.

A special course designed for people working or wishing to work in medical environments, with no medical training, to develop skills to communicate clearly and effectively using medical terminology.

This course is relevant to anyone working or wishing to work in fields of health, alternative medicine or paramedical areas; such as reception for a doctor or natural therapist.

This course is also suitable for writers in the medical field who would like to improve their knowledge of medical terminology.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Medical Terminology
    • What is Medical Terminology.
    • Origins of Words.
    • Structure of Words.
    • Medical Prefixes.
    • Medical Suffixes.
    • Constructing Medical Terms by altering prefix or suffix.
  2. Anatomical Structure
    • Anatomical Prefixes.
    • Anatomical Suffixes.
    • Locating parts of the body.
    • Terms to indicate positioning of anatomical features in body.
    • Acronyms.
    • Symbols.
  3. Medical Equipment and Procedures
    • Terms to describe Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures.
    • Terms to describe Medical Equipment.
    • Storage and Handling of Medicines.
    • Sterilising Equipment.
    • Terms to describe Bacteria.
    • Gram Staining.
    • Diagnostic Microbiology.
    • Research Microbiology.
    • Types of Wounds.
    • Problems Resulting from Wounds.
    • Treating Wounds.
    • Electrolytes.
    • Examples of Prefixes and Suffixes.
  4. Pharmacological Terminology
    • Types of herbal and pharmaceutical medicines (e.g. Alkaloids, Calmatives, Cathartics, Decongestants, Expectorants, etc.).
    • Pharmacological Terms (e.g. Allergens, Carcinogens, Photosensitisers, Toxic Alkaloids, etc.).
    • Over the Counter Prescription Drugs.
    • Terminology for OTC and Prescription Drugs (e.g. Steroids, Barbiturates, anti-Psychotic Drugs etc.).
    • Prefix and suffix examples.
  5. Musculoskeletal System Terminology
    • Naming main muscles.
    • Musculature ... Types of Muscle tissue.
    • Relationship between muscles and bone.
    • Bone and Joint problems (e.g. Sprains, Broken Bones, etc.).
    • Disorders of musculoskeletal System (e.g. Fibromyalgia, Sprains, strains, Cramp, etc.).
    • Suffix Examples.
  6. Cardiovascular, Lymphatic and Immune Systems Terminology
    • Parts of the Heart.
    • Circulation.
    • Systole and Diastole.
    • Terms related to Disorders of Cardiovascular System.
    • Lymphatic System and Immunity.
    • Leucocytes.
    • Vaccination.
    • Immunity.
    • Disorders of Immunity.
    • Suffix and Prefix Examples.
  7. Respiratory and Reproductive Systems Terminology
    • Lungs.
    • Respiration.
    • Pulmonary Circulation.
    • Gas Exchange (Diffusion, Perfusion, Arterial Pressure).
    • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
    • Diagnostic Procedures for Lungs and Airways.
    • Respiratory Disorders.
    • Male Reproductive System.
    • Female Reproductive System.
    • Pregnancy.
    • Parturition.
    • Caesarean Section, VBAC and Multiple Gestation.
    • Premature Birth and Miscarriage.
    • Reproductive Disorders (e.g. Amenorrhoea, Menorrhagia, PCOS, Endometriosis, etc.).
    • Suffix and Prefix Examples.
  8. Digestive and Excretory Systems Terminology
    • Parts of the Digestive System.
    • Renal System.
    • Kidneys.
    • Ureters and Bladder.
    • Urethra.
    • Disorders of Digestive and Renal Systems (e.g. Anal Fissure, Haemorrhoids, Inflammatory Bowel System, Kidney Stones, Pancreatitis, etc.).
    • Suffix and Prefix Examples.
  9. Integumentary System (Skin) Terminology
    • Thermoregulation.
    • Electrolytes.
    • Types of Sensory Nerves.
    • Sun Protection.
    • Integument Structure.
    • Cell Types.
    • Disorders (e.g. Scab, Atrophic skin, Abrasion, Excoriation, Scar, Ulcer, etc.).
    • Diagnostic Procedures.
    • Suffix and Prefix Examples.
  10. Nervous and Sensory Systems Terminology
    • Brain.
    • Central Nervous System.
    • Peripheral Nervous System.
    • Disorders of Nervous System.
    • Disorders of Sensory System (e.g. Aphasia, Apraxia, Vertigo, etc.).
    • Diagnostic Procedures.
    • Suffix and Prefix Examples.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Communicate clearly and effectively using medical terminology.
  • Explain the scope and nature of terminology used in medicine and allied professions.
  • Identify the meaning of words that describe general anatomical features, including dsorders.
  • To identify the meaning of words which describe medical tools, equipment and procedures.
  • To identify the meaning of words that describe pharmacological terms.
  • To identify the meaning of words that describe physiological and anatomical features in the musculoskeletal system, including disorders.
  • To identify the meaning of words that describe physiological and anatomical features in the respiratory and reproductive systems, including disorders.
  • To identify the meaning of words that describe physiological and anatomical features in the digestive and excretory systems, including disorders.
  • Identify the meaning of words that describe physiological and anatomical features in the nervous and sensory systems, including disorders

What Does it Mean?

Medicine has a language all of its own.

  • Work with Doctors, Nurses or other Health Practitioners effectively, you need to be able to communicate with them.
  • Build your knowledge and confidence in using Medical Terminology.

Medical Abbreviations And Acronyms (course extract)



AA Alcoholics Anonymous

AAA Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

ABG Arterial Blood Gases

ABMT Autologous bone marrow transplantation

ABVD Doxorubicin bleomycin vinblastine dacarbazine

a.c. Before food from the Latin, ante cibum

ACE Angiotensin converting enzyme

ACEI Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors

ACL Anterior cruciate ligament

ACS American College of Surgeons

ACTH Andrenocorticoid hormone

ADA Andenosine deaminase

ADD Attention Deficit Disorder

ADH Antidiuretic hormone

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

AF Atrial fibrillation

AFO Ankle-foot orthosis

AFP Alpha-fetoprotein

AHF Antihemophilic factor

AHG Antihemophilic globulin

AI Artificial insemination

AICD Automatic implanted cardiac defibrillator

AID Artificial insemination by donor

AIDS Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

AIH Artificial insemination by husband

ALG Antilymphocytic globulin

ALL Acute Lymphocytic leukaemia

ALPS Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome

ALS Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

ALS Advanced Life Support

ALT Alanine Transfer

AMA Anti-mitochondrial antibodies

AMA Australian Medical Association

AMA American Medical Association

AMC Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita

AML Acute myelocytic leukaemia

AMP Adenosine monophosphate

AMS Atypical measles syndrome

ANA Anti-nuclear bodies

ANCA Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies

ANF Atrial natriuretic factor

ANF Anti-natriuretic factor

ANP Anti-natriuretic peptide

ANP Atrial natriuretic peptide

ANUG Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis

AP Alkaline Phosphatase

APECED Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy

APLS Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome

APSAC Anisoylated plasminogen streptokinase activator complex

APS Autoimmune polyglandular syndrome

APTT Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time

ARC Aids related complex

ARDS Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome

ART Antiretroviral therapy

ARM Artificial rupture of membranes

ASA Acetylsalicylic acid – commonly known as aspirin

AS Aortic stenosis

ASCD Arteriosclerosis coronary artery disease

ASD Atrial septal defect

ASO Antistreptolysine O

AST Asparagine Transferase

ATG Antithymic globulin

AT-III Antithrombin III

ATP Acute thrombocytopenic purpura

ATP Adenosine triphosphate

AVM Arteriovenous malformation

AVR Aortic valve replacement

AZT Azidothymidine



BAL Brochoalveolar lavage

BAL British anti-lewisite

BAO Basic acid output

BCG Bacillus Calmette Guerain ( a tuberculosis vaccine)

b.d. Twice daily from the Latin, bis die

BE Base excess

BK Bacterium Koch

BMC Bone mass content

BMD Bone mass density

BMI Body mass index

BMR Basal metabolic rate

BMT Bone marrow transplantation

BNF British National Formulary

BNP Brain natriuretic peptide

BP Blood Pressure

BP Bipolar disorder

BPD Borderline personality disorder

BPH Benign prostatic hyperplasia

BPM Beats per minute

BSE Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

BSP Bromsulphthalein

BUN Blood urea nitrogen


Study Medical Terminology by Distance Learning

You can start the course at any time.

It is studied by distance learning, so you can study where and when you want to. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies. Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy
Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.

Tracey Jones (Psychologist)

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE.
Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc.
25 years industry experience in writing, editing, education, psychology, and business. Tracey has several books and hundreds of articles published; in both fiction and non fiction.

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