Why Take an Online Medical Terminology Course?
Clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals use a standardized vocabulary of medical terms to facilitate universal communication. Using standardized medical terminology helps improve the quality of patient care by ensuring that the same words will always mean the same things to all medical employees. Naturally this includes doctors and nurses, but having a solid understanding medical terminology is also very important for non-clinical roles too, such as medical billing and coding. Patients and family members can also benefit from developing an informed understanding of relevant medical terminology, as well as professionals in other fields that can be closely associated with medicine, like law, insurance or forensic science.
Often, a medical terminology course serves as an introduction or entry-level prerequisite for other fundamental courses in the health sciences, like anatomy and physiology. One may also have to complete a medical terminology course as part of a non-clinical medical degree program, such as health information technology. Some medical terminology certificate courses are available online, along with free vocabulary review courses and reference resources for learners who are not seeking credit or certification.
Although most free online courses don't count for college/CE credit, they can represent a range of learning styles and educational needs. Some may also provide a certificate of completion for a fee. Check out the list below and find a free medical terminology course that's right for you.
Free Medical Terminology Courses, Classes, and Resources
Des Moines University
Des Moines University offers a Medical Terminology Course for students who are interested in learning how medical terminology works, who do not require official college credit or certification. This 15-module course is entirely self-guided and covers the etymology of approximately 300 medical terms relating to human anatomy, pathology, and medicine. If required, students may pay a fee for a certificate of completion, which includes audio pronunciation files and a final assessment.
Doane University (via edX)
Available through Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider edX, Doane University offers an introductory, 8-week Medical Terminology course at no charge. This course is geared towards aspiring healthcare professionals who wish to develop fluency in medical terms relating to anatomy, physiology, diagnostics, and more. While the free course is non-credit, students may pay an optional fee to earn a verified certificate of completion. This course is also credit-eligible, meaning that students who pass the class with a C or better may earn three credit hours after paying a university tuition fee.
Students may find an interactive study of Medical Terminology on Free-Ed.net. This entry-level course is intended to help students improve communication with healthcare professionals. Its curriculum consists of 28 lessons organized into four parts (with exams): Introduction, Stems, Prefixes, and Suffixes. The lessons are presented in an interactive flashcard format, with some flashcards providing new information, and others testing one's memory of previous medical terms.
GlobalRPh.com is a free reference site for professional clinicians, featuring a vast database of searchable information on abbreviations, calculators, laboratory tests, prescription drugs, and more. While this is not a formal course, students might find its Medical Terminology - A Thru Z database a helpful resource when learning medical vocabulary. In addition to the database of terms, students can also find a word building reference, etymology rules, and 20 medical terminology exams for self-assessment.
National Institute of Health - National Cancer Institute
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has created a free Cancer & Medical Terminology learning module that focuses on the etymological roots, prefixes, and suffixes relating to cancer and other conditions. This course is especially geared towards people working in cancer registries and includes specialized information on interpreting medical records, abbreviations, and symbols.
National Institute of Health - U.S. National Library of Medicine
NIH and the U.S. National Library of Medicine have also produced a free Understanding Medical Words Tutorial, which may be completed on-site or downloaded for offline use. This tutorial, part of the Medlineplus free medical library, is aimed towards patients who want to learn medical terminology so they can communicate better with their physicians. This tutorial includes quizzes for self-assessment, plus additional resources on medical word parts and abbreviations, as well as other health-related topics.
University of Minnesota
Beginning health science students can boost their studies with the review materials offered by Murray Jensen at the University of Minnesota. The Introduction to Medical Terminology includes a review of how medical terminology works, plus common prefixes, suffixes, and roots. A worksheet is included for review. Educators may also find a teacher's guide, image banks, lab demos, and other resources.