doc's please answer questions

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15+ Year Member
Aug 2, 2002
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Good evening. I am a pre-med student who has been asigned an interview essay for my english class. I have a series of questions that I would realy be greatful if you all would answer for me. You can either post your comments or you can e-mail them to me at [email protected]. I have a deadline ending Thursday.

1) How often do you write?

2) What are the different types (formats) of writing that you do?

3) What is the frequency of writing for the different types?

4) What is the purpose for each of the types?

5) Approximately how much time do you spend writing each day/ each week?

6) Do you follow up telephone conversations and other oral transactions with written documentation? Why is tis documentation important in your position or profession?

7) Who are your audiences (to whom do you write?)

8) How would you assess the role of writting in your career? What has been the relative importantance in advancing your career/getting pay increases/gaining increased responsibility?

9) What happens to those people who do not write effectively in your association?

I know these are a lot of questions, and you all have hectic schedules, but if you could even find time to answer some of the questions it would be great.

thanks a bunch clinton


Screw the GST
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Nov 24, 2002
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1. Every day
2. Charts, prescriptions, work/school notes, orders
3. Chart for every patient, prescriptions less than every patient (many (more than half) don't need them), work/school notes depending on employment, day of week, and injury, orders as to medications or tests - certain tests that are more precise or involved need a succinct description.
4. Chart is medico-legal - to document findings and interventions. Prescription to allow patients to get medicine that are regulated. Work notes are to allow people credit for time missed or will be missed. Orders because this makes a paper trail and a reference point (as to why you want the test).
5. About 10-15% of my time.
6. Yes - to make a paper trail for documentation (for patient care) and for medico-legal reasons (in case someone sues)
7. Fellow health care professionals for the charts, prescriptions to pharmacists, work/school notes to employers and school officials, orders to fellow health care professionals (nurses, aides, techs, physicians on consulting services)
8. Primarily the writing has to be concise and legible. Some physicians are better than others at "painting the picture", but a lot of it is simply data that tells its own story. Most of the health care professionals reading what has been written already know what they are looking for. As for advancing my career, I just have to document what I've done; if I put down something that isn't true, that's a crime. If it's grossly inaccurate, that questions competency. If it's simply not done, that can limit my privileges at admitting patients (which, when I finish residency, can financially hit me), and leaves me wide open if I get sued (the axiom is, "You didn't write it, you didn't do it").
9. People that don't write effectively are not writing. The writing is a means to an end, not an issue in itself. It doesn't have to be smooth or flowery - just clear - and, even then, it's just data, with little or no exposition. Also, often, cases are similar, so charts will look similar (so, physician documentation of unremarkable findings will become rote, but are easily modified at the writing for a specific, abnormal finding).

I work mostly in the Emergency Department, as a resident. PM for more details, if needed.


Quantum Member
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Jul 25, 2003
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Here's The medical student take.

1. During the preclinical years (1-2) writing is primarily note-taking and happens daily. During the clinical years (3-4) writing is similar to what Apollyon stated and is daily as well.

2. Writing can take the forms of notes on class, papers, research publications, orders, patient notes, etc.

3. Notes for class are daily. Papers happen about once a semester. Notes, orders, etc. happen daily.

4. We take notes to organize information for learning, write papers to communicate learned information and, in the case of publications, share that information with the larger medical community. We write patient notes to learn the process and content of the notes, and for the reasons Apollyon mentioned.

5. Of my working hours, 10% of my time as well.

6. Yes, for the same reasons Apollyon gave.

7. We write for
1. Other doctors, so they know what we did for the patient
2. Insurance companies, so they know what to pay for
3. The patient, so they know what we did, what to do when they get home, and why to call us in the middle of the night.
4. Ourselves, so WE know what we did for the patient, and to protect ourselves from litigation.

8. Good writing skills, and communication skills in general, are critical for physicians. What a doctor does for a patient must be completely and easily understood by the audiences above. As far as what we write for ourselves in the form of classroom notes and papers, these are influential in our grade and ultimately future specialty options. Those who can communicate and document well advance and prosper. Those who can't don't.

9. People who don't write effectively 1) get paid less 2) are more susceptible to lawsuit 3) Earn the ire of other physicians who can't figure out what the writer is/isn't doing.