Years ago, while I was teaching a course in Denver, an attendee blurted out, “Marie, this stuff is all like speaking Greek!” What a great observation! I thought. This stuff really does seem pretty foreign at first. That’s a great starting point for talking about the importance of learning terminology.
Let’s consider: If you were booked for a trip to Greece, what would be one of the first things you’d want to do? Learn Greek, right?
Unquestionably, once you are booked for the IBLCE exam, one of the first things you should want to do is to learn the language of the exam–that is, to learn the terminology.
Although many of us tend to use the words “vocabulary” and “terminology” interchangeably, they are a little different. Vocabulary refers to words that we use in our everyday speaking and writing. Terminology is vocabulary specifically associated with a certain field of study, profession, or activity.
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are in a field of study, a profession, or an activity related to health care. That means you need to know the terminology. (And–circling back around to the course participants’ thoughts about Greek–more than 90% of medical terminology is derived from Greek or Latin!)
Here are just a few reasons why learning the correct terminology is important.
It helps you on a comprehensive exam!
When taking the NCLEX exam to get my nursing license, I bumped into a word I didn’t know: gastroschisis. I could’t answer the question on the exam because I didn’t have any idea of its definition. Was it a respiratory ailment? A bump on the head? A hormonal problem? I had no idea. I quickly realized if I had known the meaning of the word gastroschisis, I might have had a chance of answering the question correctly. But, at that time, I didn’t have the remotest clue what it was. Sigh…
It helps you when reading new information
Studies that look at elementary school children’s vocabulary repeatedly show that those with a smaller vocabulary have more trouble with reading comprehension. In fact, elementary teachers give young students the “five-finger rule”. If they count five unfamiliar words on a page, they need to look up words. They are not grasping the message of what they are trying to read.
Presuming that you are committed to evidence-based practice, you’ll be doing some reading and diving into some healthcare books and journals. That means you’ll need a strong mastery of terminology. Research suggests that simply reading a word in context is rarely helpful for gaining an understanding of its full meaning. (And, we might assume, not helpful for using the word later.) So know it, or look it up.
It is a critical tool for communicating with colleagues
If you converse with a colleague, you would expect them to speak your language, right? It would be tough to have a productive conversation if you were talking in English and they were responding in Greek.
The same is true when you are having a conversation about a healthcare issue. If you don’t know the definition, it will be hard to have a meaningful conversation. And, documentation in the medical record is also a form of communication.
Terminology is easy to learn
Honest. It’s easy. I love teaching this stuff in a live session. I love giving a brief snapshot of the Greek or Latin word that forms the basis for the terminology related to the concept I’m teaching.
Since 2006, one of our most popular IBLCE exam prep study tools has been our flashcard sets. We originally published them in paper form. A year or so ago, we converted them into an electronic app so you can install on your smart phone or your tablet. In a sense, they work just like paper cards. You can shuffle them, place them into electronic “piles,” and more. Over and over, I hear people say that having our flash cards makes learning terminology fun!
Whether you’re preparing for the IBLCE exam, reading a research article, documenting in a chart, or conversing with a client or colleague, it’s critical for you to master the terminology that is common in your field.
How did you learn terminology related to lactation?