revisiting the MT wannabee

Well, I’ve been back into it again today. Another day in the MT-in-training trenches and I’m up to my armpits in grammar corrections, medical misspellings, bad verb tense matchings, and muffled mumblings.

I’ve managed to do another ‘end of block’ test and begin another block. It never ends. And its getting harder. I’m thinking about avoiding hospital scenarios altogether and just going for specialist consultation dictation instead. That is, of course, if I get the choice. I didn’t realise that there were so many different names for forceps, sutures, gauze, scissors, cauterizers, dressings, and clamps. And they are apparently only just getting started. Just when you learn a medical word for something, you realise that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Medical terminology is full of names, numbers, terms, groups, listings, and things that are named after the person that invented the object or the procedure. I won’t name any names here, but some are a little more than eccentric in their undertaking.

I have learned a few interesting words during this course, but the standout for this week would be ‘Pfannenstiel’, which put simply is ‘a surgical incision that allows access to the abdomen.’ Enough said. Or too much in this case.

There is a medical name for almost any bodily function that you can think of. Epistaxis is a nosebleed. Esotropia means ‘cross-eyed.’ Hyperhidrosis means ‘excessive sweating.’ Eructation means ‘burping.’ If you could commit enough of these to memory it would make for an interesting conversation around the dinner table, and maybe even get rid of a few unwanted guests.

It is mind boggling really, the amount of thought and effort that has gone into the medical language. Some of the reasons that the layman finds it so bewildering is the fact that medical terminology has an extensive history in the Latin and Greek languages. It was created to identify the various anatomical structures, treatments, equipment, procedures, and the like. The layman, ie myself, is left dazed and confused in its wake.

I’m feeling mildly relieved that I didn’t invest in that expensive French course that I was thinking of taking up a couple of years ago, because it would have done me little good right now. By the time this is over I’m hoping to have moved on from my ‘beginner medical Latin’ status and can recognise a duodenum from a sternum, hypothysis from hypothesis, claustrum from colostrum, and cystitome from cystotome – all of which, and more, could get me into trouble if I don’t know the difference.

Hippocrates might well be the ‘father of medicine,’ but he has helped create a ‘mother’ of a medical language that is the epitome of ‘what the?’


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