Critical Analysis and Advancement of Writing and Communication Skills
Session 2 May 11, 2011
Recap of last week’s getting to the know audience exercise – common writing challenges
Writing tools: the 5 w’s
“ I can hear you talking, but I’d don’t understand you!” - Medical Jargon & Clear Communication
REB and consent forms
Assignment – important to know
Reading/translating medical jargon
How to write clearly, concisely - how to “keep it simple”
How to organize your thoughts
How to use the proper “voice”
COMMON GOAL FURTHER YOU CAREER
The Secret to good writing?
The 5 “W’s” example
An article from The Hamilton Spectator - March 4, 2008
Hamilton is the home of research into a revolutionary surgical procedure that could dramatically reduce recovery time. (WHAT)
The research is being led by Dr. Mehran Anvari, founder and director of the Centre for Minimal Access Surgery at McMaster University and one of the world’s leading practitioners of laparoscopic surgery, and by Dr. Marguerite Caddedu, associate director of the centre. (WHO)
Anvari expects Hamilton to be the first site in Canada that will use the surgical technique. (WHY)
He chaired a symposium on the surgery at St. Joseph’s Healthcare last week that brought together more than 50 surgeons and others from across Canada, inlcuding two experts from Britain and the U.S. (WHERE/WHEN )
The surgery is know as natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES). (WHAT)
The surgery is performed using a small flexible scope that enters the body through a natural orifice, like the mouth, vagina or rectum. (Don’t forget - HOW is an important part of your writing - how will your research be performed?)
While laparoscopic surgery through tiny holes is already very popular, NOTES is the next step in minimally invasive surgery. Anvari said the scope allows surgeons to see and work inside the body without making any kind of cut. CONCLUSION/SUMMARY
A recap of sound writing:
Correct spelling - be mindful of Canadian vs American spelling
Writer’s tool box
Tools to help you write more effectively
Invest in classic writing references – the most up-to-date dictionaries (English & medical)
Know the difference between “Canadian” and “American” spelling
Organize your thoughts using index cards
Hire an editor - Editor’s Association web site
Tutors - take an ESL class at your local continuing education centre
A colleague has just sent you an email relating to a meeting you’re having in one hour’s time. The email is supposed to contain key information that you need to present, as part of the business case for an important project.
But there’s a problem: The email is so badly written that you can’t find the data you need. There are spelling errors and incomplete sentences, and the paragraphs are so long and confusing that it takes you three times more than it should to find the information you need.
You’re under prepared for the meeting and it doesn’t go as well as it should.
NOW SWITCH PLACES
YOU have just sent an email relating to a meeting your colleague is having in one hour’s time. The email is supposed to contain key information that THEY need to present, as part of the business case for an important project.
But there’s a problem: The email is so badly written that THEY can’t find the data THEY need. There are spelling errors and incomplete sentences, and the paragraphs are so long and confusing that it takes THEM three times more than it should to find the information THEY need.
In today’s information overload, it’s vital to communicate clearly, concisely and effectively. People don’t have time to read book-length emails and they don’t have the patience to scour badly-constructed emails for “buried” points.
The better your writing skills are, the better the impression you’ll make on the people around you – including your boss, your colleagues, and your patients.
But there’s more to consider - another classic scenario:
To: yourcolleague @ yourplaceofemployment .com
From: you@ yourplaceofemployment .com
Subject: Yesterday’s meeting
Hey there, just go your email. LOL. You’re soooo right. Yesterday’s meeting was a total bore. Jane just kept talkin’ and talkin’. OMG. I thought that I was gonna nod off any minute!!!!!
So, here are the minutes from the meeting. Blah Blah Blah.
I’ll be in the caf if you need me.
Think for a moment…
Rather than this being a “new” email you’ve actually hit “REPLY ALL” and “JANE” and every member of the Senior Team gets this message…..What do you think your colleagues will think about you?
Email – day-to-day, not for sensitive issues. Unless you are sending attachments – reports, resumes/CVs, cover letters, consent forms. Treat the body of your email as your ‘introduction’ and even if you have attachments that are perfectly written, the initial point of contact is the email message – you must be sure to proofread even that because once you hit send…
As we pointed out last week about the “email chain”: Secondary audiences in today's business world: it’s like a chain reaction – your email is sent to a co-worker, who forwards to her supervisor, who forwards to executive manger, who makes a hard copy and takes it to a meeting with the CEO.
Be prepared for your writing to end up in the hands of a client or CEO - in fact, your writing may be circulated beyond the person to whom it was originally written.
That’s why it’s so important to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!
Contents of an email or letter to a member of your team will not be the same as one written to a client or someone in top management or even to a “friend” who is in your organization EVEN IF THE TOPIC IS THE SAME!
Medical Jargon “ I hear you talking, but I don’t understand you!” – Molina Healthcare & California Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydocs.org/assets/Multicultural_Health/MedicalJargon.pdf http://www.pfizerhealthliteracy.com/media/WordsToWatch.aspx
Webster’s Dictionary defines jargon as language that is used by a particular group, profession or culture whose words and phrases are not understood or used by other people…obscure and often pretentious language marked by the use of more words than necessary to express something.
Medical jargon can be both a tool for effective and efficient communication amongst your peers, as well as a significant barrier to understanding for those outside the group. The sophistication of the audience determines whether jargon can hinder or help communication.
Jargon is a language of familiarity. It can be a useful tool when everyone has a common understanding of the terms at hand—it is verbal shorthand. The problems arise when physicians let jargon creep into their every day communications with patients. This is when physician language can separate, insulate, and intimidate.
Good communication is the result of the use of common terms that are clearly understood by both parties.
Why do we use jargon?
Jargon is instilled during the years of medical training in highly intellectual and scientific environments. After such intense professional training, it is easy to forget that medical vocabulary is extremely technical. Clinical/medical language may be many grade levels above that of an average patient. Physicians typically have had more than 20 years of education by the time they reach practice, whereas the average Canadian reads and speaks at an 8th or 9th grade level, pointing to a huge disparity in learning and comprehension.
(see list of alternative words - REFER TO MEDICAL JARGON WEB SITE)
REB & Lay Statements Tour of McMaster University’s REB site and associated links & templates