Use Interviewing as a Medical Terminology Class Assignment

What better way to connect your medical terminology student with the real world of healthcare than to include an assignment for them to interview a healthcare professional!

Interviewing a Healthcare Professional

Interviewing a healthcare professional as a medical terminology class assignment is a favorite of mine because I find by interviewing a professional the students:

  • develop a greater appreciation for why and how terms are used in healthcare practice.
  • learn how various professions within the healthcare field employ different sets of medical terms.
  • realize how the use of medical language with other healthcare professionals improves communication, but the same use of medical language with patients can create confusion.

Interviewing a Healthcare Professional Assignment

The student is asked to interview a healthcare professional to discuss the use of medical language on the job then share what they find with the class.

I assign the interview for the third week of class. This gives students two weeks to become familiar with the class itself, and it is early enough in the semester to help students connect with why they are studying medical language. I make sure to include the assignment in the course syllabus and give information about it in the first two weeks of class so that students can prepare.

I prefer to make this assignment low stakes by allowing students to conduct informal interviews with someone they know who works in healthcare, though I encourage those who are motivated to find a professional who works in the field the student would like to be employed.

For online classes, I have students post their interview in a discussion board and assign others in the class to read the post and respond with a question, or additional information. In face-to-face classes, I have students share their interviews in small groups and then have them report to the class what they learned.

A copy of the interview summary is turned in for grading either by posting in a discussion board or by handing in a hardcopy.

The Interview

I ask students to spend 15-20 minutes with a healthcare professional. The interview can be conducted by person, by phone, or by internet.

To prepare for the interview the student identifies several questions to ask such as:

  • What is the purpose of medical language?
  • How do you use medical language on the job?
  • How does using medical language support your professional role?
  • Can you share examples of word parts, terms, and abbreviations you use daily?
  • How do you use electronic health records in your work?
  • How and/or why is medical language used in patient records?
  • How has the impact of electronic medical records impacted the use of medical language on the job?
  • What do you do when you encounter a term you do not know?


The interview report should include:

  • a brief description of your interviewee, such as first name, position title, perhaps how long they have worked in health care, etc.
  • the questions asked.
  • a summary of the interview with a reflection on what was most significant or surprising.

I invite you to try this assignment in your medical terminology course. Feel free to use, edit, and adapt any element of this post. Let me know how it goes for you!




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