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Written communication in pharmacy

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Students who pick pharmacy as a career usually do so because they have an interest in science, they want to work with people and have a flair for analysing problems. These students sometimes choose a scientific career because they also prefer subjects that don’t require the need to write lots of essays. The good news is there isn’t a lot of essay writing on a pharmacy course, as we focus on calculations, graph-drawing and multiple choice questions but we must not abandon all knowledge of the structure of language. Particularly because there tends to be some sort of dissertation-like coursework that creeps into the course in the final year of study that can be daunting as it is quite a lengthy piece of written work. 


An important quality of a pharmacy student is the effectiveness of their verbal communication. We have many classes on how to listen and speak to patients as it will be a vital aspect of our future careers. Yet, the importance of good written communication should not be forgotten as it can be just as relevant. There may not seem to be much writing involved in a healthcare profession on the surface but I can think of a few instances where it will be important. 


One aspect of being a pharmacist will be promoting healthcare to the public. This may be in the form of patient counselling but can also be in the form of information leaflets and posters and the use of language will need to be clear, concise and suited for its audience. If the language is too complex or not written with enough clarity there is the risk that the health message will be lost on the people we need to influence. Also, as a pharmacist there may be more technical documents that need to be written such as ‘standard operating procedures’ for certain processes in the pharmacy. These will need to be written accurately so that the procedure runs effectively and will need to be written clearly enough for staff to follow. Pharmacists may get involved with projects or contribute to articles and good writing skills would be very beneficial.

There should probably more written coursework on a pharmacy course even if it is scientific writing because good writing habits will always be important later on in the pharmacy profession or any job for that matter. Written communication is an art form and we should remember that it can be just as powerful as verbal communication. 

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