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*School of Health Sciences*

Library and Learning Services information hub for all things School of Health Sciences.

Medical Terminology Guide

Welcome to the Medical Terminology Guide!

If you have questions or comments about this guide, please contact Emily Gilbert, Librarian for the School of Health Sciences, or Anna Phan, Learning Services Coordinator for the School of Health Sciences.

Want to learn how to be a successful student?  A New Student Peer Mentor can help!

New Student Peer Mentors:

  • Show new students how to balance life’s obligations along with school to be successful in their education and show them the ropes of college life
  • Share strategies that have worked for them and help new students develop their own strategies for:
    • navigating online courses
    • managing time effectively
    • effective reading, note taking, studying, and test-taking
    • proper channels of communication
  • In short, a New Student Peer Mentor can show new students what it takes to be a successful student.

How do I connect with a New Student Peer Mentor?

  • You will make an appointment with a New Student Peer Mentor in Tutor Match. 
  • From the Student Portal, select Tutoring under the Resources section.  In Tutor Match, choose Success Skills from the Topic drop down menu and select New Student Mentor from the Subject drop down menu). Watch the short video below for directions.‚Äč

To find a complete list of library resources (dictionary and encyclopedia entries, eBooks, and articles), use the resources introduced on the Research page.

Below is a sampling of e-resources. To access, simply click on them.

eBooks from EBSCO:

Medical Terminology Simplified from EBSCO eBooks Medical Terminology DeMystified from EBSCO eBooks    


Animated Dictionary of Health and Medicine from CREDO Black's Medical Dictionary from Credo Dictionary of Medical Terms from CREDO Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary from Credo Jablonski's Dictionary of Medical Acronyms and Abbreviations from CREDO Medical Terminology Systems from CREDO

Mosby's Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions from CREDO  Stedman's Medical Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Symbols from CREDO

Nursing Reference Center:

Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary from Nursing Reference Center (NRC)


Search medical terminology or medical abbreviations in CINAHL

School of Health Sciences Guide Research Page:

Health Sciences main guide

Are you confused about prefixes, roots, and suffixes?  

Check out these great resources for lists, tips, and practice!

Flashcards are a fabulous way to test your knowledge and identify where you may need additional practice.  For tips on how to create and effectively use flashcards, watch the quick 10-minute video below.  For resources to create your own flashcards, click here or check out the links below the video.

Mobile Apps

Course Project: Patient Chart

In Modules 02-05, you will be presented with one component of a patient’s medical record. You will be exploring the medical terminology used in these documents and will be asked to interpret the meanings of various words and abbreviations.

In Module 06, we will put these components together and examine a full medical record. You will learn to navigate an entire medical record and will practice finding reliable and valid resources to help you understand terms that may not be familiar to you.

Documentation, the recording of a patient's condition, treatment and response to treatment, is one of the most basic patient care skills. Because accurate documentation is important, both legally and professionally, knowing how to write in medical records is as important as knowing what to record.

Link to the APA Guide.

Link to the NoodleTools Guide.

Link to the Writing Guide.

Link to the Tutor Match Answer (use Tutor Match to get help with finding abbreviations, definitions, doing APA, and/or using NoodleTools...use the linked Answer to figure out how to use Tutor Match to set up a tutoring session).

In your assignments, you are asked to list your research sources. The APA Guide shows you the proper format to list your sources. Our library databases provide APA-formatted citations that you can use for your references page. To learn more, watch the two-minute video below.

Discussion posts and replies serve as an opportunity for you to communicate your thoughts about what you are learning in your course. Your audience is your instructor and your peers.

View the Writing Guide for help with writing discussion posts:

Ideally the posts you write should prove you are thinking critically about the content of the course and should highlight and expand upon what is being taught in the course.

When writing a discussion post:

  • Read the prompt carefully and answer all the elements
  • Back-up your position with quotes, paraphrases, or summaries from quality sources, such as:
    • eTextbook
    • Course lectures and slides
    • Articles from the online library
      • Magazine articles
      • Journal articles
      • Encyclopedia articles
    • eBooks from the library
    • Quality websites

You will need to give credit to the sources that you used to gather information.

The handout attached below will provide you tips on how to create strong discussion posts.

Other tips:

  • Be sure to read your course syllabus and announcements to find the requirements for the timing and number of replies required.
  • Once you are done, start thinking about replying to other's posts.

Healthcare Career Matchmaker
The Healthcare Career Matchmaker works through an interactive interface. On a sliding scale from 1 to 10 where 1 equals “not at all,” and 10 equals “very,” students can choose how the some traits reflect their personalities. This app provides 56 healthcare careers based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor. With quick assessment tool, you can reflect your own personality traits and find best Healthcare matches.


Health Sciences Careers
Explore careers under Healthcare field and specific resources designated towards different programs we offer. 


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Database Search Tips


  • Library databases are collections of resources, including full-text articles, books, and encyclopedias, that are searchable.
  • Searching library databases is different than searching Google. Best results are achieved when using Keywords linked with Boolean Operators
  • Applying Limiters such as full-text, publication date, resource type, language, geographic location, and subject help to refine search results.
  • Utilizing Phrases or Fields, in addition to an awareness of Stop Words, can focus your search and retrieve more useful results.
  • Have questions? Connect with a Librarian through the Library Live Chat for assistance.

Boolean Operators connect keywords or concepts logically to retrieve relevant articles, books, and other resources.  There are three Boolean Operators:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT

Using AND 

  • Narrows search results
  • Connects two or more keywords/concepts
  • All keywords/concepts connected with "and" must be in an article or resource to appear in the search results list

Example: The result list will include resources that include both keywords -- "distracted driving" and "texting" -- in the same article or resource, represented in the shaded area where the circles intersect (area shaded in purple).

Using OR

  • Broadens search results ("OR means more!")
  • Connects two or more synonyms or related keywords/concepts
  • Resources appearing in the results list will include any of the terms connected with the OR connector

Example:  The result list will include resources that include the keyword "texting" OR the keyword "cell phone" (entire area shaded in blue); either is acceptable.

Using NOT

  • Excludes keywords or concepts from the search
  • Narrows results by removing resources that contain the keyword or term connect with the NOT connector
  • Use sparingly

Example: The result list will include all resources that includes the term "car" (green area) but will exclude any resource that includes the term "motorcycle" (purple area) even though the term car may be present in the resource.

A library database searches for keywords throughout the entire resource record including the full-text of the resource, subject headings, tags, bibliographic information, etc.


  • Natural language words or short phrases that describe a concept or idea
  • Can retrieve too few or irrelevant results due to full-text searching (What words would an author use to write about this topic?)
  • Provide flexibility in a search
  • Must consider synonyms or related terms to improve search results
  • TIP: Build a Keyword List

Example:  The keyword list above was developed to find resources that discuss how texting while driving results in accidents.  Notice that there are synonyms (texting and "text messaging"), related terms ("cell phones" and texting), and spelling variations ("cell phone" and cellphone).  Using keywords when searching full-text requires consideration of various words that express an idea or concept.

Subject Headings

  • Predetermined "controlled vocabulary" database editors apply to resources to describe topical coverage of content
  • Can retrieve more precise search results because every article assigned that subject heading will be retrieved.
  • Provide less flexibility in a search
  • Can be combined with a keyword search to focus search results.
  • TIP: Consult database subject heading list or subject headings assigned to relevant resources

Example 1: In EBSCO's Academic Search Complete, clicking on the "Subject Terms" tab provides access to the entire subject heading list used in the database.  It also allows a search for specific subject terms.


Example 2:  A subject term can be incorporated into a keyword search by clicking on the down arrow next to "Select a Field" and selecting "Subject Terms" from the dropdown list.  Also, notice how subject headings are listed below the title of the resource providing another strategy for discovering subject headings used in the database.

When a search term is more than one word, enclose the phrase in quotation marks to retrieve more precise and accurate results.  Using quotation marks around a term will search it as a "chunk," searching for those particular words together in that order within the text of a resource. 


"cell phone"

"distracted driving"

"car accident"

TIP: In some databases, neglecting to enclose phrases in quotation marks will insert the AND Boolean connector between each word resulting in unintended search results.


Truncation provides an option to search for a root of a keyword in order to retrieve resources that include variations of that word.  This feature can be used to broaden search results, although some results may not be relevant.  To truncate a keyword, type an asterisk (*) following the root of the word.

For example:


Library databases provide a variety of tools to limit and refine search results.  Limiters provide the ability to limit search results to resources having specified characteristics including:

  • Full text
  • Resource type
  • Publication date
  • Language
  • Geographic location
  • Subject

In both the EBSCO and ProQuest databases, the limiting tools are located in the left panel of the results page.

                                                 EBSCO                                                     ProQuest


The short video below provides a demonstration of how to use limiters to refine a list of search results.

Each resource in a library database is stored in a record.  In addition to the full-text of the resources, searchable Fields are attached that typically include:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Journal title
  • Date of Publication
  • Abstract
  • Subject Headings
  • Publisher

Incorporating Fields into your search can assist in focusing and refining search results by limiting the results to those resources that include specific information in a particular field.

In both EBSCO and ProQuest databases, selecting the Advanced Search option will allow Fields to be included in a search.

For example, in the Advanced Search option in EBSCO's Academic Search Complete database, clicking on the down arrow next to "Select a Field" provides a list of fields that can be searched within that database.  Select the field and enter the information in the text box to the left to use this feature.

Stop words are short, commonly used words--articles, prepositions, and pronouns-- that are automatically dropped from a search.  Typical stop words include:

  • a
  • an
  • and
  • the
  • also
  • but
  • for
  • in
  • is
  • of
  • so
  • which
  • when
  • was

In library databases, a stop word will not be searched even if it is included in a phrase enclosed in quotation marks.  In some instances, a word will be substituted for the stop word to allow for the other words in the phrase to be searched in proximity to one another within the text of the resource.

For example, if you searched company of America, your result list will include these variatons:

  • company in America
  • company of America
  • company for America

This short video demonstrates how to create a search string -- keywords connected with Boolean operators -- to use in a library database search to retrieve relevant resources for any research assignment.

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