How to Get a Medical Terminology Certificate

Getting started in the field of medicine requires you to have a good grasp of medical terminology. No matter what type of medical position you are aiming for, understanding medical terminology will be important for attaining your long-term medical career goals. From diagnosing patients to communicating with other healthcare professionals, being familiar with important medical terms is a key to career success.

This is why many people interested in a medical or healthcare career acquire a medical terminology certificate. Earning a medical terminology certificate will help you to stand out from other job applicants and will also help you enhance your performance once you have the job.

Many medical terminology certificate programs are one semester in length and are available at many online universities. Some students earn their certificate and then move on to study to become various healthcare professionals, including:

  • Dieticians
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Medical assistants
  • Physical therapists
  • Laboratory technicians

Course objectives of some medical terminology certificate programs include:

  • Defining the meaning of word roots, prefixes and suffixes in medical terminology
  • Being able to recognize and understand basic medical terminology
  • Learning how to identify and decipher medical abbreviations
  • Spelling and pronouncing basic medical terminology
  • Analyzing terms that are unfamiliar using acquired knowledge of word roots, prefixes and suffixes

The typical topics covered in these programs include:

  • Introduction to medical terminology
  • Health and disease in the human body
  • Muscular system
  • Skeletal system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Respiratory system
  • Digestive system
  • Nervous system
  • Urinary system
  • Skin and the integumentary system
  • Endocrine system
  • Reproductive system
  • Pharmacology and diagnostic procedure

There also are other types of medical terminology certificates that cover other aspects of the medical field, such as billing and compliance. We provide information on those programs below.

Popular Online Medical Certificate Programs

If you are interested in earning a medical terminology certificate online, you may want to consider one of these quality online programs.

Ashworth College

Ashworth College’s medical terminology certificate program will provide you with a solid background and education in medical terminology that can be very useful for a variety of medical and healthcare careers. This program will teach you about the basic anatomical structures and functions of the body, as well as how names for common procedures, diagnoses and treatments are developed.

After completing this program, you will be able to do the following:

  • Explain the principles of building medical worse and be able to use word parts to both interpret and understand medical terminology that you do not know
  • Identify and use proper medical terminology to describe human body anatomy. This includes the structures, functions and components of major organ systems and organs
  • Explain the most common pathologies of different systems in the body, and how they are treated and diagnosed
  • Describe diagnostic procedures, lab tests, and imaging methods that are related to radiology, oncology and nuclear medicine.

This program is 100% online and most students can complete the material in approximately three months.

American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC)

The AAPC offers several types of medical terminology certificates, but ones that are generally related to medical billing and coding, and related specialties.

Medical coding standards have become very complex in the past two decades. Regulations and requirements with our current healthcare system are best met when medical coders have been properly certified to provide accurate medical coding.

The most common certification programs that AAPC administers are:

  • Medical Coding Certification: Some of the specific certifications that can be earned include Certified Professional Coder, Certified Outpatient Coding, Certified Inpatient Coder, Certified Risk Adjustment Coder, and Certified Professional Coder – Payer.
  • Medical Billing Certification: Become a Certified Professional Biller so that you have an understanding of all of the various types of insurance plans; be able to apply payer police and Local Coverage Determinations for claims to be successfully submitted; be able to successfully navigate various rules and regulations with HIPAA, the False Claims Act and the Fair Debt Collections Act.
  • Certified Professional Medical Auditor: This credential provides you with expert level skills in medical documentation, fraud, abuse and penalties for coding violations; important coding concepts; scope and statistical sampling methodologies; medical record auditing skills; quality assurance and coding risk analysis; and communication of results and findings.
  • Certified Professional Compliance Officer: This certification provides you with knowledge of the OIG Compliance Guidance for Individual and Small Group Physician Practices; compliance program effectiveness; False Claims Act, Stark Laws and Anti-Kickback Statute; handling investigations and self disclosure protocols; requirements under Corporate Integrity Agreements and Certificate of Compliance Agreements.

Des Moines University

One of the most affordable online programs to earn a basic medical terminology certificate is available through Des Moines University. This program is used by many aspiring healthcare professionals who want to apply or have applied to many medical professional programs, such as a medical school, school of nursing, or school of physical therapy. Other students who have taken this course in the past are attorneys who work in personal injury law, and insurance professionals as well.

This course covers approximately 300 important terms in the medical field. The purpose of the program is not to provide you with a full academic program in medical terminology, as this could take a year or more. Rather, this course will teach you the basics about medical terminology so that you can decipher what various medical terms mean by understanding the root words and prefixed involved.

An unusual aspect of this medical terminology program is that the course itself is free. If you desire an official certificate from the university, the cost of the course is $99. After you have completed the course, you will take a graded, final examination. Upon successful completion of the exam and the payment of the fee, you will receive a certificate of completion that you can provide to your school or employer.

Cal State East Bay

This university in San Francisco offers an online medical terminology certificate that will provide you with the basic medical knowledge that you need to succeed in a variety of healthcare positions. This course takes one semester to complete and will greatly enhance your understanding of medical terminology.

No matter if you need to be able to describe the body in detailed medical terms or apply correct terminology for major diseases, this program will give you the medical terminology foundation you need.

This program is completely online and can be completed in 60 hours at your own pace.


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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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