With different prefixes, suffixes and abbreviations, medical terms can often seem like a whole other language.
Whether you want to speak like a medical professional or better communicate with your healthcare providers, I’ve spent the past few weeks looking into the best Medical Terminology Courses on the web so you can find a class best suited to your needs.
Read on to find out more…
What are the best Medical Terminology Courses?
Here are my top recommendations for the best Medical Terminology courses this year:
- Clinical Terminology for International and US Students (Coursera)
- Online Medical Terminology Course (Des Moines University)
- Medical Terminology 101 (Udemy)
- Medical Terminology Foundations (Udemy)
- Online Medical Terminology Course (Penn Foster)
- Medical Terminology I (Coursera)
- Medical Terminology (Udemy)
- Medical Terminology (edX)
- Introduction to Medical Terminology (Alison)
- Medical Terminology and Medical Abbreviations 2021 (Udemy)
One of the best courses on this list is the ‘Clinical Terminology for International and US students’ class on Coursera. This course stands out from the crowd due to its lessons simulating real life medical scenarios, allowing for a more immersive learning experience.
With over 100,000 students currently enrolled and a 98% satisfaction rate, it’s clear that other students agree.
For students who wish to gain recognised certification, the Penn Foster course is nationally accredited through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. And the Alison Course is accredited through the CPC. Studying with one of these institutions could help boost your employability or improve your opportunities for further study (of course, it’s always good to check this, as different institutions may operate on different certification requirements).
Best Free Medical Terminology Courses
Quite a few of the courses mentioned below can be accessed for free, such as those offered by Coursera, Des Moines University, Alison and edX. However, for those who wish to unlock features behind a paywall (ie. certificates, quizzes etc), there is a fee attached..
1. Clinical Terminology for International and U.S. Students (Coursera)
Platform: Coursera | Teacher: Valeria Swigart & Michael Gold | Length: Video lessons and quizzes which will take approx. 34 hours to complete
With over 100,000 students enrolled and a 98% satisfaction rate, this course offered by the University of Pittsburgh provides a truly immersive learning experience, consisting of course quizzes and lesson content reflecting real life scenarios.
You will learn:
- Basic clinical terms and abbreviations
- How medical terms are used in real life scenarios
- Strategies to decode complex medical terms
- Commonly used acronyms for the names of diseases and conditions
- Lesson content and quizzes available for free
- Lessons simulate real life medical scenarios making the learning experience more immersive and engaging
- Certificate of completion (available at a cost – financial Aid available)
- Subtitles available in other languages (ie. Arabic, French, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, German, Russian, English, Spanish)
- Certain quiz questions contain content taught in future lessons making it difficult to answer
- Focuses on beginner level content – may not be appropriate for those with some prior knowledge
Who it’s for: US medical healthcare students, international students and practitioners who wish to familiarize themselves with US medical terms and other healthcare professionals (ie. caregivers and medical interpreters).
Overall: A well thought out course with engaging content, covering a wide range of information and available in multiple languages. Best suited for beginners.
2. Online Medical Terminology Course (Des Moines University)
Platform: Des Moines University | Teacher: Donald Marz and Willliam J. Dyche | Length: Self paced course consisting of 15 modules of written lesson content
Founded in 1898, Des Moines University is a reputable medical school based in Iowa. This online course will teach you approx. 300 new medical terms related to the human body – there’s even a bonus module on medicine related terms.
You will learn:
- Approximately 300 new medical terms
- Basics of medical terminology – ie. prefixes, suffixes
- Terms related to the following human body systems: Circulatory, Nervous, Digestive, Respiratory, Urinary, Male Reproductive, Female Reproductive, Musculoskeletal, Cancer related terms.
- Terms related to medicine (in the bonus module)
- Access the content of all 15 modules for free
- Certificate of completion available at a cost – the paid course also includes: tracked progress, audio pronunciation of medical terms and post module assessments/ final quiz.
- Easy to understand – friendly tone of voice and use of tables to clearly set out word roots, prefixes, suffixes etc.
- Also available in Spanish
- Written format only – no video lessons so might not be suitable for more visual learners.
Who it’s for: Those who wish to develop their understanding of common medical words and their meanings.
Overall: A good, well thought out course which has a friendly and easy to understand tone of voice. The use of tables clearly sets out the information, making it easy to digest and remember.
3. Medical Terminology 101 (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Emma Hitt Nichols | Length: 20 video lessons totalling 2 hours and 18 minutes
Emma Hitt Nichols and Jessica Martin are medical writers with a vast knowledge of medical terms. As one of the bestseller courses on Udemy with a 4.6 star rating, this course will teach you the basics of medical terminology.
You will learn:
- How to describe main suffixes and prefixes in medical terms
- An overview of medical terms within major body systems
- Medical terms related to bones, muscles, skin, digestive, urinary, reproductive, heart and circulatory systems, respiratory, brain, eye and ear
- Techniques on HOW to learn medical terminology efficiently
- How to spell and pronounce words properly
- Includes cheat sheets and over 140 quiz questions
- Concepts explained well with medical examples to illustrate when suffixes might be used
- Use of diagrams and grouping medical terms into specific categories makes information clear and concise
- Some students may find the delivery of lesson content to be unengaging – tutor adopts a lecture style approach of reading information which can seem monotonous
Who it’s for: Ideal for healthcare professionals, students, patients and caregivers who may need to communicate medical terms within their everyday life.
Overall: Comprehensive course which covers the basic medical terms well.
4. Medical Terminology Foundations (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Colin Tempelis | Length: 16 video lessons totalling 2 hours and 10 minutes
As an orthopedic physical therapist, Colin Tempelis has experience working in the medical industry and the terms commonly used in practice. Join him in this 2 hour course as he takes you through the medical terms commonly used for different body systems.
You will learn:
- Medical terminology (ie. reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, urinary system, integumentary system, special sense, digestive system, respiratory system and other general terms)
- Prefixes, suffixes, combining forms and plurals
- Includes 46 downloadable resources to aid your studies (ie. powerpoint slides, tables of key terms etc)
- Includes a certificate of completion
- Includes examples of how suffixes apply to real terms
- Clearly explains what the course will cover
- Concise, clearly explain and easy to follow along with
- Seems to just read off the slides which can make lessons seem quite boring
- Monotone delivery
- Lack of diagrams
Who it’s for: Students looking to work in healthcare or current healthcare professionals or personal trainers looking to brush up on their medical terminology.
Overall: A course which includes a good range of information delivered in a clearly explained way. The resources are an added bonus which makes it easy to follow along with the course.
5. Online Medical Terminology Course (Penn Foster)
Platform: Penn Foster | Teacher: – | Length: Self paced course which takes, on average, around 2-3 months to complete
Penn Foster is an accredited college which provides healthcare training for workers. In this course, you will learn about the medical terms commonly used in practice and will even gain a DEAC recognised certificate of completion.
You will learn:
- How to recognize important word constructions and meanings
- How to distinguish medical terms based on their component parts
- Medical terms related to the following systems: Musculoskeletal, Circulatory, Respiratory, Digestive, Nervous and Reproductive, Integumentary and Endocrine.
- The terminology used in diagnostics, intervention and human body terms
- Nationally accredited through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
- No exam due dates – completely self paced to fit around your own schedule
- Includes: Digital study guides, self check quizzes, practical exercises and engaging online student community
- Pricier compared to the other courses on this list and it’s not clear whether it really covers much more lesson content
- **Certification requirements for jobs in this field may differ in each state so students should check whether this course is recognised before enrolling if wishing to obtain an accredited certificate for work purposes
Who it’s for: Students who wish to increase their knowledge of common medical terms and gain an accredited certificate on completion of the course.
Overall: A professional course with accredited certification and a range of study resources (ie. study guides, practice questions etc). This course is self paced and ideal for students who wish to upskill in their career.
6. Medical Terminology I (Coursera)
Platform: Coursera | Teacher: Laura S.Kabiri | Length: Video lessons, readings and quizzes which will take approx. 14 hours to complete
Rice University is one of the top 20 universities in the US and among the top 100 in the world. With a 4.8 star rating, it is clear that this is a popular choice amongst students learning medical terms.
You will learn:
- The purpose of medical language
- Basic word parts and concepts used in medical terms
- The most common terms and templates used for health records
- Terms related to the integumentary (skin), musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) and urinary (kidneys) systems
- Includes a final assessment and module quizzes to test your skills
- Includes a certificate of completion
- Part of a coursera specialization (If you like this course, there are 2 others within the series which will allow you to build on your newfound knowledge)
- Free to browse (certification available for around $49 – financial aid available)
- Engaging instructor and information is delivered in a digestible way
- May be too easy for those with some prior knowledge of medical terms
- Content is split into 3 separate courses rather than having all the info in one all encompassing course
Who it’s for: Anyone interested in medical language or those looking to enter further medical study.
Overall: Well structured course which delivers information in an organized way. Quizzes and assessments are great for testing knowledge.
7. Medical Terminology (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Paul Stewart | Length: 35 video lessons totalling 12 hours and 14 minutes
With over 10,000 students, this bestseller course on Udemy teaches you the foundations of medical terminology.
You will learn:
- Prefixes, suffixes and abbreviations used in medical settings
- Anatomy and physiology basics of the body systems
- Pathologies and associated signs and symptoms
- Procedures, therapeutics and healthcare specialties
- Associated pharmacology
- Breaks down the grammar behind medical terms to make it easier to understand as a concept (ie. looks at medical terms as building blocks to be added together) – what is a prefix, suffix etc
- Uses examples of words to clearly explain concepts
- Explains the basics of human anatomy well so you are familiar with bodily function processes and anatomy
- Covers a comprehensive range of topics – very informative
- Slow paced and slightly monotone
- Goes through the list of prefixes, suffixes etc quite fast – PDF handouts would be great for easy access to the diagrams used.
Who it’s for: Perfect for beginners as no prior knowledge is needed. Also suitable for medical students, those working in sectors which require knowledge of medical terms and any other curious students.
Overall: Very comprehensive course which explains concepts well and covers a wide range of information
8. Medical Terminology (edX)
Platform: edX | Teacher: Amanda McKinney| Length: 8 week course consisting of 5 to 10 hours study per week
Doane University is well known for its undergraduate programmes in natural and applied sciences. As a physician with a passion for lifestyle medicine, Amanda McKinney teaches this course, sharing her knowledge of medical terminology with students.
You will learn:
- How to accurately communicate, write and apply medical terms
- Terms associated with anatomy, physiology, pathology and diagnostic tests of different systems
- Different prefixes, suffixes and stem words used in medical terms
- Medical abbreviations
- Self paced course so you can fit lessons around your own schedule
- Free course – optional upgrade available for those wishing to complete graded assignments and earn certificates
- Video lessons with transcript available
- Course will eventually become archived once the course session ends – whilst you can still access lectures and readings, other functions will become unavailable (ie. upgrading to earn a certificate, complete assignments for grading, speak to course staff on forums)
Who it’s for: Ideal for beginners as this is an introductory level course (no prior knowledge is necessary). Also suitable for medical students or healthcare professionals looking to improve their knowledge of medical terms.
Overall: A great course for building a solid foundation of medical terminology basics.
9. Introduction to Medical Terminology (Alison)
Platform: Alison | Teacher: Apex Learning | Length: 1.5 – 3 hours of self paced lesson content
With approx. 11,810 students already enrolled, this free course by Alison will teach you all the basics of medical terminology – you can even pay to obtain a CPC accredited certificate of completion if desired.
You will learn:
- Basic medical terminology used to describe the human body, various organ systems, diseases, disorders and associated treatment procedures
- The names of frequently performed laboratory tests
- How to identify the equipment found in a medical ward
- Commonly encountered suffixes, prefixes and word roots
- Free course
- CPC Accredited course (with the option to pay for a certificate of completion)
- Course assessment available to test your knowledge of lesson content
- Use of pictures and diagrams to better illustrate terms
- Monotone Speaker
- Difficult to follow along with – explains medical terminology with vocabulary the regular layman may not be familiar with
Who it’s for: Medical students who want to better communicate with healthcare professionals using industry related terms. Also suitable for those who wish to better communicate their own or a loved one's health condition with doctors/ nurses.
Overall: A free course which acts as a good introduction to the very basics of medical terminology.
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Sumaiya Fatima | Length: 16 video lessons totalling 1 hour and 45 minutes
Having taught clinical subjects for the past 8 years, Sumaiya Fatima has applied her knowledge of medical terms to create this course. Join her as she explains the basics of medical terminology – from prefixes and abbreviations to terms related to the human body.
You will learn:
- Medical suffixes and prefixes
- Compounded medical terminology
- Medical terms related to the different systems and parts of the human body (ie. cardiovascular, urinary, digestive, nervous system, eye, reproductive system, endocrine system etc)
- Medical Abbreviations
- Includes an end of course quiz to test your own knowledge of the content covered
- Explains the very basics of forming medical terms (ie. what is a suffix, what is a prefix etc)
- Doesn’t have examples to show how suffixes apply to real life medical terms
- Doesn’t use many diagrams or illustrative examples
- A lot of background noise
Who it’s for: Patients who wish to better understand medical reports or prescriptions given by physicians or want to be better placed at explaining their symptoms in a medical setting.
Anyone who wishes to better their knowledge of medical terms (ie. medical students, healthcare workers etc).
Overall: A very basic course which covers some information but not the most comprehensive out of the list.
What are the advantages of taking a Medical Terminology Course?
There are many advantages to taking a Medical Terminology Course, here are a few of the most popular ones…
- Better communicate with healthcare professionals when discussing your own health or the health of loved ones
- Efficiency in the workplace – allows you to better understand work colleagues within a healthcare setting
- Medical students can have an easier process onboarding into a working environment
- Improve your medical literacy for those with an interest in the human body and biology
Buyers guide: what to look out for
Struggling to decide which course is right for you? Check out the points below for some points you should consider before making your choice…
- Course content – Whilst all of the courses above cover medical terms, the topics covered may still differ. Consider your needs for studying the course and whether you need to find a course which covers a specific human body system or has a particular focus on abbreviations or medicinal terms etc.
- Certification – Some of the courses mentioned above include accredited certification, a normal certificate of completion or no certificate at all. If you do require a certificate, I recommend doing some research beforehand to ensure the certificate obtained will meet any specific requirements set out by different organizations.
- Time – It’s important to choose a course that can fit into your schedule. Whilst most of the courses mentioned above are self paced, they may vary in length so consider how much time you will realistically have to complete the course.
- Teaching style – Are you a visual learner? Or someone who learns through quizzes and feedback? The courses above range from video lectures or written content to immersive scenario based learning or quizzes. Your preferred learning style is an important factor to consider to ensure you choose a course best suited to your needs, allowing you to absorb information easier.
- Price – Budget is also an important factor to consider when choosing a course. The main thing to note is whether a course is good value for money. A course may cost more but may be better value if it covers more topic areas or provides information in more depth.
How much does it cost?
Quite a few of the courses outlined above can be accessed for free on platforms such as Coursera, Alison, edX and Des Moines University. However, if you’d like to unlock features behind a paywall (ie. certificate of completion, quizzes etc), there may be a fee attached.
In terms of paid options, the courses listed above range from $24 – $324 depending on the platform (you can often get them for cheaper during online sales).
Whilst the Penn Foster course is a lot pricier compared to other courses on this list, it is nationally accredited through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and includes teaching from a reputable institution. Courses on Udemy are a lot cheaper but also include a lot of useful information when studying medical terms.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your own personal learning needs.
How long does it take to learn Medical Terminology
The length of time it will take to learn medical terminology all depends on how much time you have and your own personal learning pace.
To give you a general idea, the courses outlined in this article can take between 1.5 hours to 3 months to complete. These figures do not take into account the time it may take to make notes and review previous lesson content so be sure to factor these in when considering overall timings.
Have no idea which course you should go with?
I recommend Coursera’s ‘Clinical Terminology for International and U.S. Students’ for the best overall learning experience. The course is taught in an immersive way which reflects real life scenarios, includes quizzes and you can even choose to purchase a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
If you’re looking for something to boost your employment or study opportunities. I recommend the Penn Foster or Des Moines University courses as they’re both taught by a reputable institution. And the Penn Foster course is nationally accredited under the DEAC.
Medical Terminology courses frequently asked questions
I recommend Coursera’s ‘Clinical Terminology for International and U.S. Students’ for the best overall learning experience.
Medical Terminology Courses can cost between $24 – $324 however, a lot of course content can be accessed for free if you don’t require a certificate of completion or access to additional features (ie. quizzes)
Medical Terminology courses can take between 1.5 hours to 3 months to complete. As they are mostly self paced, you have the flexibility to adapt this to your own study schedule.
Jessica graduated from the University of Manchester with a First Class Degree in LLB Law. In her spare time, she enjoys learning new languages, singing, and performing.