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Health Science | Medical Terminology

4 Engaging Medical Terminology Games to Boost Student Motivation

June 16th, 2022 | 6 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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When teaching difficult concepts such as medical terminology, health science teachers can feel overwhelmed and frustrated. You want your students to engage with and memorize important material, but you might be uncertain about how to keep your students focused and energized. Worse still, you fear that your students may be bored and unable to master vocabulary that will be a part of assessments and certification exams.

We've seen thousands of teachers like you struggle to keep students engaged, which is one of the reasons we created our HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system. HealthCenter21 helps teachers save time while keeping learners focused in an engaging way. But sometimes you are looking for supplemental games and activities to boost your existing medical terminology lesson plans.

In this article, you will find four different medical terminology games that you can use in your classroom to help your students better understand the language of health science.

Learning games are great tools to use in any classroom because they rely on active, instead of passive, learning. These interactive activities are a fun way to prompt students to make daily contributions which encourage them to pay attention, memorize, and even study critical classroom content.

Video: 4 Medical Terminology Learning Games to Increase Engagement and Information Retention

Activity 1: Medical Terminology Pictionary

medical terminology pictionary

The classic drawing game of pictionary can be a great way of introducing visual learning to your classroom. Visual learning methodology is fundamental in reaching students who may struggle with more conventional memorization methods, such as students with dyslexia or English Language Learners (ELLs).

Medical terminology games geared towards visual learners are the perfect way to reach these students and benefit the entire classroom by promoting active learning. Identifying medical terms through images can help students commit key words and phrases to memory and create a sense of friendly competition in the classroom.

How to Play Medical Terminology Pictionary:

An easy way to play pictionary is to supply students with cards with a medical term or phrase. One at a time, students will go to the board and draw a picture to represent the word on their card. Once a classmate correctly guesses the term, the student can add the medical abbreviation below the image.

fracture-medical-terminology-pictionaryFor example, if the medical term is "fracture," the students draws something to depict a fracture. After a student guesses the correct term, the drawer will write the abbreviation "fx" on the board.

Pictionary is perfect for reviewing medical abbreviations and can be used virtually any time during a course when you might like to teach lessons differently.

You can add to the fun by choosing a best or favorite drawing and leading a discussion on how it relates to the medical term it represents. 

Helpful Hint: Ensure your students are coming up with the correct answers themselves, rather than relying on the teacher to refresh their memories.

Activity 2: Medical Terminology Relay Race

medical terminology relay race

While pictionary is excellent for reaching students through visual learning, classroom relay games are a fun way to connect with kinesthetic learners in your classroom. When the weather is nice and students need a break from their seats, relay games are a great way to get students outdoors and moving around.

How to Implement a Medical Terminology Relay Race

An easy way to implement a relay game is to set up a course with three stations, each with a designated caller. At each station, the caller holds flash cards containing both the term and its definition on the same side.

The caller gives the definition of a term, and another student, the runner, must define the term. Once the caller confirms the answer is correct, the runner runs to the next station. The runner then tags another student, who becomes the new runner and listens for the next term to be called.

The relay continues in a triangular fashion until all students have defined terms and completed the course.


To maximize the number of students participating simultaneously, teachers can consider setting up a second course and have two teams of students competing to be the first to complete the course successfully. 

Students enjoy this medical terminology game because that allows them to become active in the classroom and compete with their peers. When learners are told in advance of the activity the words and phrases they need to memorize, they often choose to study the terms to do well during the game.

Kick It Up: To add dimension to the game, ask your students to put on silly clothing or accessories before running their relays. We recommend items such as swimming goggles, inflatable tubes, or armbands that can be cleaned and shared safely.

Activity 3: Funny Stories with Medical Terms

medical terminology stories

For a writing-oriented activity that is great for small groups, you can facilitate a game of funny stories using medical terms. Medical terminology often involves a wide array of abbreviations, which can be difficult for students to learn and memorize.

Students who learn best through writing will appreciate the opportunity to craft sentences and short stories which allow them to memorize and play with abbreviations to reinforce their learning.

How to Run the Funny Stories with Medical Terms Game

Using a computer or pencil and paper, learners can write out sentences that include health science abbreviations in place of the full words and phrases they represent. When students present their work to the class, their classmates will decipher the abbreviations in order to understand the story.

Here's an example of a funny story with abbreviations: “Charlie had to be Pt while his wife put exactly the right t. of coffee grounds in the machine to make his coffee. If he had his way, he would have had it IV. He also liked a lot of sugar in his coffee but his wife said they had to d.c. that or their wt could get out of control. All he could think was QNS! He needed coffee and sugar stat or the world could just forget about him getting OOB!”

Medical term storytelling is adaptable and perfect for small groups, where students can work together to creatively craft sentences and commit terms to memory. Once students gain experience with the activity, teachers can even use it in lesson plans for a substitute teacher.

Add Some Fun: Teachers can incentivize this activity by introducing a class trophy for students to compete for by composing the most creative story in the class. Making a silly trophy out of knick-knacks or recycled objects would fit the theme. The trophy can become a classroom tradition awarded to different students or groups over the course of the school year.

Activity 4: Medical Terminology Candy Toss

medical terminology activity candy toss

Few classroom incentives are quite as popular as an old-fashioned candy toss. The prospect of a sweet treat during the school day can be surprisingly successful in motivating students to study and come to class prepared.

Candy tosses are a reliable motivator when students are the most fatigued or least motivated to participate, such as on Fridays after a long work week. They are also a great incentive to coincide with significant review periods before unit exams or certification testing.

A candy toss does not have to be expensive. Teachers can find a wide selection of sweets and “penny candy” at dollar stores, discount retailers, and wholesale clubs. When there is candy on the line, teachers have found that students are willing to study harder and pay more attention during class periods.

Bring Your Energy: The best way to make reciting terms in class engaging is to infuse them with your own enthusiasm. The more fast-paced excitement a teacher brings to the candy toss, the better the response from students.

Boost Student Engagement and Understanding in Your Health Science Classes

Mastering medical terminology is one of the most critical challenges students face in their health science courses. Thankfully, you can enhance your learners’ understanding by regularly incorporating medical terminology games and activities to foster a balanced, blended learning environment.

Want more ideas to boost engagement in your classroom? Download the free 25-page eBook on, “Keeping Students Engaged in CTE.” In the eBook you’ll find dozens of tips and tricks from instructional designers, students, and educators like you:

Get Your eBook: Boost Engagement in Your Classroom