help this non clinical administrator get a clinical education!
October 19, 2011 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I am currently an Administrative Fellow in a 3 hospital system (graduated with my Masters in Healthcare Administration in May.) What is the best way for me, being non-clinical, to learn clinical "lingo"/get a clinical "education"?

the "best" way is probably to sit in on a number of cases -- be they in the cath lab, OR, ER, etc

outside of that are there books/articles I can read? videos i can watch?

I am really open to doing just about anything to learn more of the terminology and of course know what I am talking about when I use it...

tl;dr - non clinical administrator looking for best way to get a clinical education
posted by knockoutking to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What are the rules wrt HIPAA and you? Sitting in on morning reports would probably be overwhelming.

My institutions have innumerable continuing medical education seminars, especially at lunch. I recommend those since you will get some lingo but have more time to sit there and tap it into your phone as it comes.

Have you checked around on the internet? Search terms might be a bit opaque, but there are people who've written most of these down so that "foreigners" and researchers can read notes.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:47 AM on October 19, 2011

Lots of community colleges offer medical terminology courses, and a quick google shows that there are several online ones as well. I learned medical terminology when I was a medical records clerk in a private practice- I read a lot of discharge summaries and looked up anything I didn't understand.
posted by dogmom at 5:49 AM on October 19, 2011

When we train coders where I work, we begin with this book. It's a straightforward way of getting a lot of terminology in a fairly short period of time. Also, not being a coder, I've also found that it helps me with context clues on bits I've not seen before.
posted by Mooski at 6:02 AM on October 19, 2011

Medical student here - one really useful things I've found is wikipedia's list of medical abbreviations. Also linked from that page is the list of medical acronyms, which is also useful.

Beyond that dogmom's strategy of reading discharge notes and the like and looking up stuff you don't know I think is probably the best way to learn.

If you're a bit of a language geek, another way to go about it is to learn the meanings of the Latin and Greek roots (which are under a lot, but not all, medical words), which means you can 'self-assemble' the meaning of a lot of medical stuff.
posted by Coobeastie at 6:21 AM on October 19, 2011

Best answer: Having worked as a medical librarian for a year or so, I've found the following book helpful for getting a grasp of medical terminology. It offers enough opportunity for review to make the terms 'stick' despite my having no science or clinical background whatsoever. Medical Terminology: A Short Course.

Beyond just the strict clinical terms, there's a whole realm of more informal lingo and practices that I find far more mystifying. So far, I've found 3 ways of addressing this:

- Clinician's Pocket Reference, aka the "scut monkey book." It's aimed at 3rd-year medical students doing their first clinical rotations. Some of the terms used will be over your head (having not attended medical school), but it gives an overview of patient care responsibilities, typical hierarchies and relationships among different kinds of clinicians/providers/health care professionals, etc. (Not to shamelessly promote my profession, but consider asking your hospital librarian if they have the book - it comes as part of a popular eBook package.)

- Medical schools and teaching hospitals often provide handbooks for students starting clinical rotations. Some of the information will be ridiculously specific and skippable, other information may be more useful. Here are a few examples, with the first one being the one I've found most helpful since it's aimed at advising med students how to behave in the clinical environment.

">Example 1 - Jefferson
Example 2 - Texas

- Select TV shows in medical settings can help with pronunciation. I like ER in particular for (1) not being Grey's Anatomy and (2) the sheer density of medical terms-per-minute.

All this said, I'm still trying to gain a better clinical education myself. So I'm looking forward to reading other people's suggestions!
posted by brackish.line at 6:23 AM on October 19, 2011

It's hard to guess where the gap in your lingo education lay, since an MHA should provide you with a pretty healthy healthcare vocabulary. It's also difficult to assume exactly how much clinical Jargon an 'Administrative Fellow' needs in order to do your job.

I'm going to assume a medical terminology course/book may be a waste of time for someone with a masters in a health care related field, most of it is aimed at entry level workers with an associates degree or BS level of education. You can figure out the aorta is greater than an artery is greater than an arteriole is greater than a capillary, right?

And I'm going to assume you feel the gap when trying to communicate administrative concepts to physicians (Hey Doc, putting down an ICD-10 without putting down DRG is like doing a right heart cath without recording a central venous pressure) or parse exactly what a clinical situation is in order to try and figure what an administrative role should be (like, oh... Doctor Blowhard is doing a right and left heart cath... for administrative purposes does that count as one procedure or two procedures... also, why is it a procedure and not a surgery?).

The best education for you may just be try and know as much about your job as possible and then look up references you don't understand (google search "Right Heart Cath" (or whatever term confuses you) and "E-medicine" for a decent free internet resource aimed at clinicians. If your facility subscribes to it MD-Consult is better than e-medicine, though.

Most doctors don't pick up the Jargon well enough to sound convincing until their third year of school, which involves 30-60 hours a week shadowing doctors and then home study, so no one really expects an administrator to know all the lingo. Hell, I'm past my 3rd year and there are still weird gaps in my lingo. Since you don't have an extra eight hours a day sitting in on cases is probably too much effort. Unless the doc or RN is a real Blowhard, they should respond well to questions, it makes most people feel hear administrators admit when they don't know something.

OH! and any medical procedure that's ever been done has a you tube video explaining whats going on.
posted by midmarch snowman at 6:34 AM on October 19, 2011

Man, I wish this thread were five years older.

I keep a running list of terms I don't understand on my iPhone (in simplenote), looking them up on wikipedia as soon as I get a chance. At this point it dates back to before I had the phone, 5 years or so. Trying to force stuff in that I'm not using every day doesn't work for my brain.

I wouldn't worry too terribly much. Or at least, I'd figure out how to get over it. Believe me, the front line folks are pleasantly refreshed when administrative types admit they don't have a goddamn clue what they're talking about. Act curious and like you want to understand their work and you are going to have a huge leg up. Everyone loves to show off how much they know, so asking them to explain terminology and how they do their job is easy. Humbleness gets you farther than anything else.
posted by pjaust at 6:46 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another vote for the Dean Vaughn system. It will get you such that if someone mentions a disease, you will know that it is a disease of the heart, and ok so that is why cardiology is concerned about the recent increase in admissions with x, y, z.
posted by teragram at 10:37 AM on October 19, 2011

You can get the app for Taber's medical encyclopedia too, which may give you quicker and more direct results than googling or wikipedia-ing.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:57 AM on October 21, 2011

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