English Medical Terminology: Sharing an International Language of Health

Work doesn’t always have to feel like work when it produces a sincere joy. MEDRIX volunteers develop a true bond with their Vietnamese colleagues through sharing a mutual passion: English Medical Terminology. It’s a vital course for Vietnamese doctors and nurses to take. They simply need to know the international language of their profession if they wish to communicate and share medical knowledge.

Cindy Young traveled with MEDRIX to teach English Medical Terminology from 2006-2012. Cindy is a dedicated nurse who, along with her husband Doug, are passionate about Vietnam. Doug tracked the 2012 course, as well as their other Vietnam adventures, on his blog Virtual Doug. Here’s an excerpt: Florence Nightingale

“If one were to read most of the posts on this blog, one would think we are here in Việt Nam to just see the sights, go to a wedding, eat good food and ride a motorbike. That may be true for me, but not for Cindy. She has work to do, though she will be the first to tell you that it is not work for her – it is a labor of love.

“These are motivated students. They already have passable general English skills, but now they need to  add correct medical terms and names of procedures to their vocabulary. For a non-medical person, the entire class is gibberish, but to a medical professional’s ears, they are just learning the English term for words they already use in their practice of medicine and nursing. In Cindy’s classroom was a bust of Florence Nightingale. While seeming a bit strange to see in this Asian country, it was also nice to know that the spirit of caring for others transcends cultures. Love, not English, is the true international language.”

 

Medical terminology presentationDr. Mark Jabbusch had a similar experience when he completed teaching a short course for doctors in English Medical Terminology. Through developing a mutual language in their shared profession, Dr. Jabbusch discovered a bond with his students and colleagues that he had not expected:

“Closing of the course was tonight and I am still not sure all what happened. What I do know is there was a shared closeness (couched mostly in our relationship as doctors) that went beyond anything I could have brought to the table.

There was a building trust and depth of sharing to the end point when I shared about love. One of the docs had earlier asked me ‘why I had come’. I hadn’t answered well; I decided to try again in my closing.

I had been working them over with Greek and Latin derivations as part of the way to learn and pronounce medical terms. So I ventured into the four Greek words for ‘love’ at the end:

  1. Building from a love we all have for family and clan (very strong over here);
  2. To eros love (another reason I had traveled half way around the world and given of my time to be here… to see Barbara tomorrow);
  3. To brotherly love (which I could tie into the sharing we had done this week as physicians);
  4. And finally to agape love.

“With this I could share that I have known unconditional love, and that it was not mine to keep, but to share. I held that out as long as I thought I could pause, then reaped a lot of hugs and tears and a celebratory (I could only wish it were a fully agape) dinner. I wanted to name the giver of this unconditional love – I made it clear it didn’t originate in me – but I didn’t get that far.

I do know that ‘surely the presence is in this place.'”