I have finally worked out the complicated world of making epub files and have published my first ebooks. Having bought a Kindle for myself last year, I can certainly see the value of being able to download books and take them with me in a small device. I am hoping that my ebooks will be as useful to my readers. I have started with ebooks for the Occupational English Test as this seems to be the priority for many of my youtube subscribers.
Recently, I have been talking with nurses who have come to the UK from Spain to work in hospitals around the UK. Coming from the EU, they were not required to pass an English test like IELTS or OET before working here. All were promised language support on arrival in the UK but this does not seem to have eventuated. It is very hard to manage the specialist English you need when you start in an English-speaking hospital e.g. tasks like giving a handover, telephoning admission information, doing an admission, completing the multitude of assessment tools and many more. I plan to develop some support materials in this area soon and will make an ebook of the Spelling and Vocabulary book as soon as possible. Watch this space!
It's always great to find a new way to present materials to my students and readers. To find a way of presenting activities which practise reading skills is very hard so I was very happy to find Article Video Robot. Follow the link and you'll see some of the reading texts I've manage to convert to YouTube videos. I didn't even have to find my own pictures and the whole product was able to be uploaded to Slideshare afterwards.
What I really like is that it's a visual snapshot of each section of the article. There's movement and colour and the video can be stopped whenever you like. I make a worksheet to go with the video which is easy to pop up onto this website. And, it's as simple as that!
Abbreviations are used frequently in hospitals, however, in recent years there has been an insistence on avoiding abbreviations or symbols which may be confusing. This is most important in drug administration. An excellent website for national standards regarding acceptable abbreviations in Australia is the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Find it at http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/
Read the pdf called ‘Recommendations for Terminology, Abbreviations and Symbols
used in the Prescribing and Administration of Medicines’
You will find a set of tables at the end which explain changes in some abbreviations which were changed because they were considered to be unclear. Some of you who have worked in other English-speaking countries will notice that there are a few differences between Australian abbreviations and those you may be familiar with. I’ll look at these later.
The abbreviations in the table which you will probably be dealing with in the stimulus material of the OET writing subtest are those relating to the administration of medications, specifically:
* TIMES OF ADMINISTRATION - daily ( not OD or d), bd (not BID), tds ( not TID)
- mane ( in the morning) , nocte (at night) , stat (give immediately), prn (give whenever necessary), OTC (over-the-counter medicines), TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)
* FREQUENCY OF ADMINISTRATION – every 4 hours -add times e.g. 06:00,10:00 etc- not 4/24
* DAYS, MONTHS,WEEKS - I day (not 1/7), 1 mth (not 1/12) and 1 wk (not 1/52)
The abbreviations 4/24 or 6/24 etc are still quite common in IV fluid administration, however, the recommendation is to write 4 hr or 6 hr.
* DOSAGE – g, mg , mcg (or microgram), ml, units, mg per ml
Other abbreviations have been removed from the list of accepted abbreviations because they are felt to be dangerous or ambiguous. The most common are:
Form to be written now:
Units (write in full) e.g. 5 units Humalog insulin
Sliding Scale (write in full) e.g. sliding scale insulin
R eye / L eye/ both eyes (specify which eye/eyes)
As well as abbreviations, some symbols are also avoided. For example, when charting a urinalysis result, we used to write + ( and say ‘One plus of protein’) , ++, +++ etc .This is an easy one as you can use the correct amount which is also included on the label of the urinalysis sticks. It is less clear if you describe the discharge of a wound as being ‘++ drainage from wound drain’. This supposedly meant ‘ a moderate amount of drainage’ but it was never clear ‘whose’ moderate we were referring to. One nurse’s idea of ‘moderate’ may not be another nurse’s idea of moderate. It is now required that you say exactly how much drainage there is e.g. 120 ml drainage. It is quite acceptable to write ‘minimal drainage of <20 mls’ if it is not possible to accurately measure a very small amount.
Differences from country to country
1. Nurses who have worked in the UK may be confused by the abbreviation 1/24 as the abbreviation '1to the power zero' (see below) is used for ‘hourly’ or ‘over an hour’. In Australia. this abbreviation would be read as ‘primary’ e.g. a primary carcinoma and is on the list of confusing abbreviations.
2. In Australia, the abbreviations bd, tds and qid are used. In the UK, bd, tds and qds are used.
See below: symbol used to mean 'primary' in Australia.
The transcript of a recent YouTube video:
Hello, my name is Virginia Allum. I write materials to help candidates prepare for the Occupational English Test. This short video is about predicting the language you may use in a role play. I will add the transcript for this video to my blog on the English for nursing and healthcare.com website so you can read it as you watch the video.
I am often asked to write more sample role plays about new topics but …is this really necessary? Of course, it always helps to have knowledge of new vocabulary or specific vocabulary. But, it’s often more important to think about the sort of language you tend to use in the role plays. Before you start any conversation, the natural thing is to think about the ‘topic’ of the conversation. So you will gather terms which you may need to use in the role play but you also have to think about how you are going to get your message across. I’d like to talk about this aspect of the role plays in this short video.
You may have noticed that some role plays share expressions. For example,
Talking about making lifestyle changes: this will often be a discussion about weight loss and exercise programmes. Perhaps also a discussion about quitting smoking or cutting down.
Talking about dietary changes – more fibre, less sugar, less fat.
Explaining discharge information after an operation – talking about managing a dressing and removal of sutures. Also, post-operative exercises.
Assessing pain relief – using a pain scale, talking about quality of pain, duration.
Talking about pain relief immediately after an operation –using a PCA, changing to oral pain relief.
Talking about pain relief on discharge – need to start with simple painkillers, taken regularly.
Because you may be talking about similar things, albeit in different situations, try to practise using the expressions you may need. For example, It’s important to continue your weight loss programme. You need to take the painkillers regularly through the day so your pain level doesn’t build up.
Another group of role plays are the ‘persuading’ role plays. You may be persuading a patient to stay in hospital for observation after a minor head injury. Persuading a patient to wait for a blood test result. Or, persuading a patient to accept support at home e.g. Meals on Wheels, home assessment to put in aids to ensure safety in the home.
Finally, there are role plays where a parent is worried or upset about something that has happened to a child. Remember that parents with ill or injured children tend to be anxious and often feel guilty about what has happened. These role plays ask you to reassure and minimise negative feelings. So, you’ll need to use empathetic language.
Empathetic language will also be used in another group of role plays, namely ones where you are dealing with an aggressive patient or relative. These role plays may also include a complaint.
What am I saying by grouping role plays? What I mean is that, although the topic of the role play will influence you, it’s very important to decide what sort of language you are being asked to showcase during the role play. If you are presented with a surgical role play, you can draw on the expressions you’ve practised before to talk about pain relief and wound care.
It helps to practise with a friend, ideally another OET candidate. Set up a conversation where you explain about pain relief and dressings. Have your partner think of some of the interruptions you might expect. Things like But what if the pain level is really bad after the operation? What if I get a wound infection…how will know? Anticipate these interruptions. What are you going to say?
Obviously, you can’t guess everything the interlocutor will say but you can guess quite a lot. An example is talking about dressings. What are some of the things you can say to the patient?
You need to change the dressing every two days.
You need to keep the dressing clean and dry.
It’s a good idea to cover it with a plastic bag before you have a shower.
As you can see, these are fairly general statements but can be used in a number of scenarios.
What sort of things might the patient ask?
Will you show me how to change the dressing?
What about the dressings…do I have to buy them at the chemist’s?
What if I can’t do the dressing myself?
Can I have a bath instead of a shower?
Be ready with your answers…You might say things like
Sure, I’ll show you how to do the dressing before you go home.
No, you don’t need to buy any. I’ll give you some dressings before you go home.
It’s better to have a shower rather than a bath because there’s less risk of infection.
Keep a glossary of terms which crop up frequently when you are practising the role plays. For instance, terms about wounds, pain assessment, dressings, sutures, medications etc. Practise using the terms in your own dialogues so you are more confident during the actual test. Look at sample role plays and notice the use of particular expressions. Use the samples as a guide for your own dialogues rather than copying them word for word.
co-author of 'Cambridge English for Nursing' Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate+
- Medical English: Spelling