Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Discovering How to Teach Medical Terminology as a New HIT Instructor

by Anissa McBreen, RHIT

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Game!

I like to share with you how I discovered using games in the classroom as a new HIT Instructor.  

When my boys were little, we had a Friday night ritual; we called Family Fun Night. (pretty creative, right?)  This ritual consisted of board games and snacks, lots of salty and sugary snacks! As my boys grew, this ritual became something of a memory. As time advanced, I reintroduced the Family Fun Night into family celebrations. Now, every family gathering we have games and snacks, lots of salty and sugary snacks! What a blast we have when we come together for some games and food.

When I became a new Instructor in August 2019, I was searching for ways to incorporate fun and learning into my medical terminology lecture. One day while writing my lecture, it hit me; why not add fun into my classroom by ways of Family Fun Night. I’d like to share with you what I observed the games added for my students-enrichment, encouragement, and excitement.


Being a new Instructor teaching Medical Terminology, I felt that not only did I need to make a first good impression, but I knew I needed to gain the trust of my students. I also knew I needed to present topics and discussions that were fresh, high quality, and included some fun. So, I moved slowly with the fun part. I certainly did not want my students to think they signed up for all fun and no lecture! I started by incorporating funny slides and jumbles into my PowerPoint lecture, while making sure I was meeting my learning objectives. My goal was not to “talk” at my students the whole class time. I wanted them to feel the value of the lecture. Implementing a simple activity, such as a jumble during my first week of class, was a success as a new instructor. It helped the students relax and become engaged with learning and each other. I genuinely believe this has provided an enriched learning experience.


Students, whether 19 or 99, need encouragement to succeed in the classroom. Since memorizing medical terminology words and pronunciation can be a daunting task for some, I realized they would need a lot of encouragement. Heck, sometimes, I find myself needing encouragement when pronouncing terms during my lectures. How could I provide this in my classroom? Games? Maybe? I tried and guess what, it worked! One of my favorite games to do with students is Kahoot. Kahoot is a game-based learning platform that allows me to create quizzes based on medical terms. Students loved it and were encouraged to learn more. Plus, it appealed to their competitiveness and they liked showing off what they had learned. I felt it helped them realize they were learning the language and were motivated to learn more. Plus, winners came away with a snack! What a great way to have fun while learning.


Who doesn’t love a good game? When I watch my students play a game, I see their excitement to play and an eagerness to learn. It fills me with satisfaction to know that I am doing my job as an Instructor. What a great feeling! Even incorporating a simple game of matching medical terms can bring enthusiasm and eagerness. More words that start with E-I think I’m on to something.

As I continue to bring Family Fun Night into my class, I have come across some great tools and resources that I like to share with you. Please think about incorporating them into your classroom. I am confident that your students will become enriched, be encouraged to learn, and feel excited about learning. And, it doesn’t hurt if you provide snacks too!
  • Jeopardy Game -can find templates online. I like to give the winning team $100,000 Grand candy bars.
  • Kahoot (
  • Proof of reading or exit slip games
  • Write the wrong spelling for terms on the board. Students get into teams and race to figure out the correct words
  • Flashcards/matching game-I recently purchased the book Exploring Medical Language. This book has been an excellent resource as a new Instructor. I use the matching cards that come with the text for each lesson I give.
  • Jumbles- I like to incorporate jumbles into the middle of my lectures to give students a break. I have found that the jumbles on are the best for this active learning activity.
  • Crosswords-I use a crossword when I have finished a lecture early and need a good
  • 20-minute activity. Sometimes, I turn it into a race.  I have found the crossword puzzles on to be the best for this activity.
  • Scramble-using medical terminology terms is a great way to use this game!
  • Family Feud-student favorite!
  • -ectomy game -students must race against the clock to come up with terms ending in -ectomy.
  • Not sure what to do? You can make anything into a game

Now, I am getting hungry. Anyone for a snack?

LaFleur Brooks, M., LaFleur Brooks, D., Exploring Medical Language, 10th edition. Elsevier

Anissa McBreen has been providing consulting services and educational workshops to Long Term Care/Post-Acute organizations for over 27 years. Under her leadership, HIM departments have developed and maintained compliance with state and federal regulations. She has also developed HIM programs for HIPAA and QAPI and provided policy and procedure manuals. She is an RHIT working towards her RHIA. Anissa is a highly driven professional and has a passion to educate those working in non-traditional settings to be successful HIM professionals. She can be reached at for questions, networking information or just table conversation between HIM professionals.

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