50 Basic Medical Terms Every Future Healthcare Professional Should Know

From a career perspective, healthcare is one of the most sought-after industries. There are countless rewarding and exciting jobs including office administration and insurance billing, mental health tech, cardiovascular sonographer and medical assistant, just to name a few.  As the global community navigates a pandemic, healthcare industries continue to hire at a rapid pace creating a multitude of job opportunities at a time where many industries are cutting back. Healthcare workers are applauded and acknowledged for their care, strength, and devotion for keeping our communities healthy. If you are thinking of changing careers or starting your career, healthcare is a phenomenal choice.  In this industry you will soon see that you will need to learn a lot of new terms. It’s kind of like learning a whole new language! Medical terminology or medical language can seem daunting to learn as they are usually scientific words with Latin or Greek origins and can be difficult to pronounce.

There are several medical terminology books out on the market, some that contain thousands of terms.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize all these words now, as some are very career specific. There are, however, 50 basic medical terms every future healthcare professional should know:

  1. Anatomy: the scientific study and branch of biology dealing with the structure and form of living organisms
  2. Anesthesia: drugs that induce the loss of feeling, capable of complete loss of sensation and used for invasive medical treatments and surgery


  1. Benign: not recurrent or repeated


  1. Biopsy: the examination of living tissue used for analysis and diagnostic purposes


  1. Cerebrovascular Sonography: an ultrasound of the arteries and veins of the brain


  1. Chronic: habitual, recurrent, and/or persisting for a long time


  1. Contusion: an injury to tissues with skin discoloration without skin breakage, commonly known as a bruise


  1. Coronavirus: any morphologically similar viruses causing respiratory infections


  1. CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation): the manual act of chest compressions and ventilations


  1. Echocardiography: an ultrasound of the heart muscle used as a diagnostic test


  1. Edema: a condition of excessive fluid in the tissues often causing extreme swelling


  1. EKG (Electrocardiogram): a visual record of the heart’s electrical impulses


  1. Embolism: a blood vessel obstruction as a result of a blood clot


  1. Epidermis: the outermost layer of the skin


  1. Extremities: the upper and lower limbs commonly known as the arms and legs


  1. Fracture: a broken bone of varying degrees


  1. Health Care: the treatment, prevention, and management of physical and mental health


  1. Hypertension: high blood pressure


  1. ICD (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator): a battery-powered device placed in chest to monitor heart rhythm


  1. ICU (Intensive Care Unit): a special department in a hospital that provides care for severe or life-threatening illness and injuries


  1. Influenza: a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system, commonly known as the flu


  1. Inpatient: a patient admitted to the hospital overnight for care


  1. IV (Intravenous): a device used to provide medication or fluids into the blood system through a vein


  1. Lesion: changes to organs or tissues such as tumours, ulcers, and wounds


  1. Malignant: trending to metastasize or life-threatening


  1. Medical Coding: the first step in the medical billing process; the process of translating medical reports into a set of codes


  1. Medical Records: comprehensive documents outlining patients’ medical history, test results and care


  1. Microbiology: a scientific study and branch of biology pertaining to microorganisms


  1. Non-invasive: a procedure that does not penetrate the body


  1. Obstetrics: a branch of healthcare dealing with pregnancy, labor and delivery


  1. Outpatient: the treatment or a diagnosis provided with a visit to the hospital; no overnight stay


  1. Pathophysiology: the structural and functional tissue changes that lead to disease


  1. Patient Triage: the act of prioritizing patients needs based on threat to life; patients are treated in order


  1. Paramedic: a person who provides emergency medical care and transportation to hospitals


  1. Pediatrics: a branch of health care dealing with children and child development


  1. Periphery: a part of a body that is away from the centre (outer part)


  1. Pharmacology: the science and chemistry of drugs including effects and uses


  1. Phlebotomy: the act of drawing blood for the purpose of analysis or diagnosis


  1. Physiology: the science of the function of the parts of a living organism


  1. Placebo: an inert substance given under assumption that is it an effective treatment such as a sugar pill


  1. Pneumonia: an infection of the lungs


  1. Post-Op: a patient or area of a hospital providing care following surgery


  1. Psychology: the science behind mental processes and behaviors


  1. Regulatory Compliance: policies, standards, or laws an organization must follow


  1. Sterilization: the elimination of microbiological organisms


  1. Sutures: the process of stitching two surfaces together


  1. Vertigo: the sensation of dizziness


  1. Ultrasound: the diagnostic or therapeutic procedure using ultrasonic waves, providing an image of the internal body


  1. Urinalysis: an analysis of urine for diagnostic purposes


  1. Wound Care: the prevention of wound complications and promotion of healing


As a future healthcare professional, these are just a handful of terms you will become very familiar with. If this is the first-time laying eyes on some of these words, don’t worry!

When you enroll in an institutionally accredited health care program, you will learn everything you need to know and more! City College offers several programs that are focused on specific careers in order to provide you with extensive knowledge and experience to prepare you for your role.

In the meantime, you can familiarize yourself with medical language, so it doesn’t sound like a foreign language when you get in the classroom.  The 50 basic medical terms listed above will give you a head start and provide you with a greater understanding of the industry and your classes. It’s by no means an easy job and the schooling can be demanding at times, but it is well worth it and will provide you with a rewarding and fulfilling career.