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Your -gnosis looks good

December 23, 2009

One of the hardest things I found about medical school was learning the language. Instead of cramming reams of embryology and other such delights during pre-clin, I would have gained much more from committing time to roots, suffixes and prefixes. When I started clinical medicine, I didn’t have much guidance in differentiating between terms, I guess the expectation was that it would be something that would be picked up via osmosis along the way. The problem with this is that no one really takes the time to ask if you know what you’re talking about and it wasn’t uncommon for colleagues and I to refer to one thing when we meant another symptom entirely.

Now that I’m close(r) to finals, I am semi-fluent and have a better hold on things and can confidently know the difference between -tony, -tomy and -trophy. Except now the problem is translating things back to non-medical jargon so that the rest of the world can get clued up on what is going on. It’s harder than it looks. I learned about pathological processes, symptoms and signs in med-speak, so trying to put an everyday spin on it is daunting, particularly in an age where people have access to more medical knowledge than earlier generations – it’s a matter of towing a fine line between not complicating a subject and not coming across as patronising. It’s enough to give a gal cephalagia.

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