Writing style of young physicians in the computer and internet era

Gila Shilo1 and Lotan Shilo2

1Culture and Humanities Division, Faculty of Society and Culture, Beit-Berl Academic College, Israel

2Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Submitted: 21/11/2013; Accepted: 13/04/2014; Published: 28/04/2014

Int J Med Educ. 2014; 5:82-86; doi: 10.5116/ijme.534a.a3e2

© 2014 Gila Shilo & Lotan Shilo. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: The objective of the current study was to analyze written language of native Hebrew-speaking medical residents, as reflected in admission notes and discharge letters for patients admitted to medical wards in a 700-bed university hospital.

Methods: Twenty admission notes and 20 discharge letters written by 40 native Hebrew- speaking residents with at least one year experience were analyzed. The residents worked in the Internal medicine departments of a 700-bed university hospital. Admission notes and discharge letters were randomly chosen for the analysis which was carried out using predefined linguistic criteria and the extent to which English or Latin terms were incorporated into Hebrew medical language such as the structure of sentences and paragraphs. (Complete list of the linguistic criteria can be found in the methods and results sections).

Results: The most important findings were that the level of language was unexpectedly low. Many English or Latin medical terms were written using Hebrew letters. The creation of 'new' abbreviations was common. Sentences were telegraphic and lacked coherence, for example there were sentences written in internet language and short message service (SMS) messages. Texts were not organized and sometimes important details were missing.

Conclusions: The writing style of medical residents should be improved substantially in order for them to be able to write coherently. One possible solution is to incorporate a course in writing into the medical school curriculum.