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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 27-34

Teaching and Learning about Written Communications in a United Kingdom Medical School

1 Centre for Medical & Health Sciences Education, Monash University, Australia, Formerly at Imperial College London, UK
2 Warwick University, UK, Formerly at Imperial College London, UK

Correspondence Address:
Debra Nestel
Centre for Medical & Health Sciences Education, Monash University, Building 15, Clayton, Victoria, Australia 3800

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Context: Written communications have a long history in medicine. Today, doctors spend a significant part of their work time completing paper work. Although the importance of accurate written communications is acknowledged, medical curricula rarely include focused teaching on this topic. Objectives: The aim of this paper is to assess the feasibility of a teaching session for second-year medical students aimed at raising their awareness of written communications in the context of health care. Methods: Immediately after the session, students and tutors completed written evaluations of their experiences. Four months after the session the entire cohort completed a knowledge test, and scores of attendees and non-attendees were compared. Findings: Three of four learning objectives were completely met by at least half of the students and the exercises were rated as helpful. Students' and tutors' comments identified specific aspects of the session that require improvement, in particular, developing the exercise on patient-centred written communications. Students who attended the session scored significantly higher in a relevant knowledge test than nonattendees. Discussion: The session provided students with the knowledge to identify patientcentred written communications and other features of effective writing in the context of medical care. Conclusions: Introducing the topic early in the medical curriculum may prove valuable in establishing effective practice. Providing students with opportunities to revisit this important topic throughout their medical education may also be beneficial. The longterm impact of the session needs to be evaluated.

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