In the field of medicine, the vast majority of scientific research circulates in English. Frequently, a physician must refer to publications such as  Annals of Internal Medicine, British Medical Journal, JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) either The New England Journal of Medicine, for instance. That is why it is so important english for doctors.

Undoubtedly, mastering this language gives access to a large amount of information and advances in the area. There are innumerable international congresses, seminars and conferences that require their participants and attendees to speak English.

But beyond the need to be updated, speaking English opens up the possibility of working in any country in the world.

Consider the Guide to English for Doctors

What kind of English should doctors learn?

To practice medicine in English-speaking countries, you must have at least an upper-intermediate level, which according to the Common European Framework of Reference is called B2. This level allows you to interact with a certain degree of fluidity and spontaneity, so it is possible to function independently in the professional environment.

Physicians who handle this level understand the main ideas of what they hear or read, including information specific to their discipline, since they have a wide vocabulary of medical English. In addition, they can express themselves orally and in writing on many topics, and explain their point of view on a specific issue.

However, due to the demands of this profession, the ideal would be to have an advanced level.

English certifications to work and study abroad

If you have considered working as a doctor in English-speaking countries, you should know that there are some language certifications that will be required of you. Beyond handling a minimum vocabulary of medical English, you must demonstrate your communication skills in this language. Here are some of the required certifications:


Possessing this certification increases the chances of getting a job as a doctor in the United States, in addition to favoring the process of emigration and adaptation to the country and its customs. Not all programs in the United States apply for this accreditation.

OTS (Occupational English Test)

This Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment certificate is aimed at health professionals who want to be registered and work in English-speaking countries. It is accepted by the official medical councils of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and is also recognized by the immigration authorities.


After passing the medical science exam in the United States, the ECFMG English exam must be passed. This test measures comprehension of English texts, English structure and medical English vocabulary.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

It has two variants: Academic, for those who want to do postgraduate studies or work in the health area in an English-speaking country; and General Training, as a requirement to obtain a visa to emigrate or for those who want to pursue non-university studies.

Resources to learn medical English in a self-taught way

Learn the vocabulary of English for Doctors

There are many ways to make the vocabulary of medical English your own and to improve your skills in this language. Applications like English with Words, Speak English Fluently either Learn English they can help you perfect your vocabulary, achieve fluency in conversation or improve your listening.

You can also use English tools like Calculate, a medical calculator, or  Medscape, where you can read the latest news in the field of medicine. Epocrates  offers you a directory on medications and a system of equations to calculate medication doses.

There are some publications aimed at learning or perfecting English for doctors: Springer Medical Español Y Spanish Doctors. You can read quality information in English in them and stay up to date with medical news. Finally, in the English for Doctors Blog You can consult grammar lessons taken to your professional field, as well as specific examples of the use of English in your profession.

online courses of technical English, a good option for busy schedules

Learning English today can be done through face-to-face courses or through online modalities. The most important thing, whatever option you choose, is that it suits your particular requirements.

To choose the best online course you should consider the following aspects:

  1. Choose the course that offers you a personalized methodology, which adapts to your specific professional requirements. You must make it clear that you need to handle English for doctors.
  2. Opt for an institute that carries out a placement test and adapts to the level you have. It could happen that you are in a B1 but have "grammatical gaps" from an A2. It is best to select an online course that allows you to level your knowledge from the ground up.
  3. Make sure they have native teachers, so you can achieve a more natural pronunciation.
  4. They must guarantee you access to classes and materials at the time you need it.

Essential Medical English Phrases and Vocabulary

The 50% of the medical English vocabulary is of Greek or Latin origin; this constitutes an important advantage for a Spanish speaker, without a doubt. Here are the names of some common symptoms and diseases, so you can familiarize yourself with them or you can consult them when you need it.

  • allergy: allergy
  • asthma: asthma
  • bleeding: bleeding
  • Chickenpox: chicken pox
  • Chills: shiver
  • Cold: cold
  • Chronic pain: chronic pain
  • Diarrhea: diarrhea
  • Dizziness: Vertigo, dizziness.
  • Drowsiness: drowsiness
  • Food poisoning: food poisoning
  • fracture: fracture
  • headache: headache
  • Heart attack: heart attack
  • Heartburn: heartburn
  • injury: wound
  • running nose; rhinitis
  • Sore throat: sore throat
  • Stitches: stitches
  • Stomachache: stomach ache
  • stroke: cerebral hemorrhage
  • Sprain: sprain
  • STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease): sexually transmitted disease

Next, you will find some phrases that could be useful to communicate in the hospital environment:

  • The ambulance took the injured man to the emergency room. The ambulance took the injured man to the emergency room.
  • How do you feel? How does it feel?
  • We need to run some tests. We need to run some tests.
  • We need to draw some blood. We have to draw some blood
  • We're going to give you a shot now. Now we're going to give him an injection.
  • Does it hurt when I press here? Does it hurt when I press here?
  • Where does it hurt? Where does it hurt?
  • I'm going to prescribe you some antibiotics. I'm going to prescribe antibiotics
  • How long have you had the symptoms? How long have you had symptoms?

English for doctors will boost your professional success, and it will open the doors to the exercise of the population in English-speaking countries. Given the busy schedule of medical professionals, taking an online course may be the best option.

The best course is the one where your strengths and weaknesses are evaluated, you can count on a program adapted to your needs and you quickly master the vocabulary of medical English.

Learn English for doctors and make connections around the world, thus developing your personal and professional potential.

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Learn with native teachers specialized in technical vocabularies. Courses oriented to your objectives and at your own pace.

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