'English test for healthcare professionals now more accessible' is an article worth reading. It explains the moves to make the OET a more attractive test for Healthcare Professionals. There are some simple things which you can do right now to prepare for the test:
For the writing:
1. Put yourself in the position of a real situation. You, the ward nurse, are writing to another HCP for something to be done.What are you likely to be asking for?
- 'care and support' - this is help with ADLs and mobility
- 'ongoing care and support' - this is when a patient returns to a nursing home; so you will explain what has changed about the support the patient needs now.
- visits to assess wound care - change dressing etc
- monitoring of medications (to ensure the patient is compliant). Can you think of other reasons?
- diabetes care - education on the use of a glucometer
- advice on hire of equipment
As you can see, there are probably a limited number of reasons for writing a referral letter. Start to gather the vocabulary you need for each possibility. You will come across phrases or collocations (words which 'go together') in your reading.E.g.
assess a wound - look at a wound to check on healing and check for infection.
monitor medications - check to see that the patient is taking the correct meds and the correct dose
encourage independence with personal hygiene - help patients do as much as they can by themselves.
liaise with the GP - speak to the GP regarding patient care.
And so on.
2. Revise the structure of a referral letter. How are you going to organise the letter? How will a referral letter for a post-op patient ( e.g. after a total hip replacement) differ from a medical patient (e.g. after sleep studies for OSA)?
For a surgical patient: you may talk about recovery from the op (any problems?) ,pain relief,dressings and suture/clip/staples removal. Also, mobility (need for mobility aids and for how long).
For a medical patient: you may talk about medication changes or compliance problems, new equipment (glucometer, CPAP), assessment of dementia, ongoing difficulties with personal hygiene.
One of the most important aspects of the OET writing test is the ability to organise your information and present it so it is clear to the reader of the letter. The recipient of your letter should be able to start from the beginning (the reference - Re: Mr Bill Patient,aged 78) , look at the first paragraph to get a general idea why you are writing and finally get to the end where you are specific about what you want the recipient to do. Once again, imagine this is an authentic situation. The reader of your letter has a short time frame to see what the letter is about.
3. Revise sentence structure. Look at simple sentences first. Then revise the use of relative clauses and conjunctions to make your sentences longer. Remember that a short sentence that is well written is much better than a long sentence which doesn't make sense!
Reading and Writing go together
Read as much as you can and take note of how the sentences are structured. ABC Radio National's Health Report is a great resource for this. Listen to a podcast before taking a look at the transcript. Listen again but this time follow the transcript. Highlight verbs and the prepositions which follow e.g.
refer ( a person) for (treatment)
Keep a notebook!
Write down words and phrases as you hear them or read them. Studying for the OET takes time. Don't leave it until the last minute. The advantage of the OET is that you will continue to use the vocabulary when you start working as a nurse in Australia or New Zealand - it will not be wasted!