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Nursing vocabulary

Nursing vocabulary

Working in healthcare as a nurse can be challenging, especially when you have to communicate in a foreign language. Here are some common phrases and words used in nursing.

Speaking to patients

When you first meet a patient, it’s important to communicate clearly and kindly. Here are some simple phrases and vocabulary that will help you introduce yourself, ask basic questions, and make your patients feel comfortable.

How are you feeling today? – checking on the patient’s well-being
My name is Anna, and I will be your nurse. – introducing yourself to the patient
Can you tell me your name and date of birth? – confirming the patient’s identity
Do you need help with anything? – offering assistance

medical symptoms and conditions

Common symptoms and conditions

Nurses need to understand and communicate about various symptoms and conditions. Here are common symptoms patients might describe and the names of some medical conditions.

Can you tell me more about your symptoms? – helps get information to help diagnosis and treatment
Have you experienced this before? – helps understanding the problem is new

Medical English on the ELLA platform.

Basic medical symptoms

Here are some of the most popular medical symptoms that patients can come into the clinic or hospital with.

abdominal pain – when your stomach hurts
bloating – when your stomach feels too full or full of gas
cough – when you keep clearing your throat loudly
diarrhea – going to the bathroom a lot with watery poop
fatigue – feeling really tired
fever – having a higher body temperature because you’re sick
headache – when your head hurts
infection – harmful germs in the body
itching – wanting to scratch your skin
joint pain – when parts of your body where bones meet hurt
nausea – feeling sick to your stomach, like throwing up
pain – when you feel something hurts
rash – red or itchy spots on your skin
sore throat – when your throat hurts, especially when you swallow
swelling – when a part of your body gets bigger because it’s filled with fluid
tiredness – feeling like you need to rest or sleep
vomiting – throwing up


Procedures and Treatments

Nurses perform many procedures to treat patients. Here are some common procedures and treatments you might need to explain to patients or talk about with colleagues.

bandaging – covering a wound with a piece of cloth to protect it
blood test – taking a little bit of your blood to check for sickness
casting – putting a hard cover around a broken bone to keep it in place
immunization – getting a shot to protect you from certain diseases
intravenous (IV) therapy – getting medicine or fluids through a tube into a vein
physical therapy – doing special exercises to help your body move better or hurt less
stitching – sewing up a cut in your skin
ultrasound – using sound waves to look inside your body, like checking on a baby in the womb
vaccination – same as immunization, a shot to keep you from getting sick
x-ray – taking pictures of the inside of your body to see bones or other parts

You might also be interested in learning about the basic minerals essential for health.


Types of medications

This paragraph will help you learn different types of medications in English.

antibiotics – medicine that kills germs and helps fight off infections
antidepressants – medicine that helps people feel better when they’re very sad or worried
antihistamines – medicine that helps stop allergies, like sneezing or itching
antipyretics – medicine that lowers fever and makes you feel less hot
analgesics – medicine that takes away pain so you don’t hurt
vaccines – shots that protect you from getting certain sicknesses
inhalers – a small device you use to breathe in medicine to help with breathing problems
insulin – medicine for people with diabetes that helps control sugar in the blood
laxatives – medicine that helps you go to the bathroom if you’re having trouble
steroids – strong medicine that can reduce swelling and help with serious allergies or other health problems

Understanding and using medical English is crucial for nurses working in English-speaking countries or environments. We’ve shown you some essential words and phrases that will help you communicate effectively with your patients and colleagues. Remember, practice makes perfect. If you want to start learning Medical English, in order to be able to fluently communicate with patients and work colleagues, sign up to our Medical English e-learning course.

Your online Medical English course on the ELLA elearning platform.

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