RE: From Buggy-Whip to PET Scanner

Subject: RE: From Buggy-Whip to PET Scanner
From: "Cekis, Margaret" <Margaret -at- mediaocean -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 13:33:48 -0500

karen_otto -at- agilent -dot- com [mailto:karen_otto -at- agilent -dot- com] asked how does a tech
writer go "From Buggy-Whip to PET Scanner"?... a fictional tech writer named
Joe... would like to document medical topics, but has no background in it."
Did Joe take Latin, Chemistry, and Biology in high school or college? I
worked for a hospital consulting firm, where I did a lot of reading of
government regulations for health care facilities and services. (Such as
what does a hospital or other health care facility have to provide in order
to offer Kidney Dialysis Services?)

I also did a lot of literature searches in medical journals about new
surgical techniques, new diagnostic equipment, and a variety of other
topics. [My crowning achievement in literature searching was borrowing
(through inter-library loan) an original copy of a PhD thesis from the
Harvard Business School Library for one of our consultants.]

I believe that Latin and biology (and good writing skills) are the basics
you need to be able to read, write, and proof the special medical
vocabulary. Today you can probably get a language CD and teach yourself
enough Latin for comprehension of medicalese. (You won't need to converse in
Latin.) An intelligent person could also get a CD course in biology or
anatomy, or a good textbook/workbook combination. [I had a horrible HS
chemistry teacher, but we had an excellent textbook and workbook. I went
through the book and did all the workbook exercises the subsequent summer,
and got 700 on the College Board chemistry achievement text the next year.]

I wouldn't recommend that Joe go straight to pharmaceutical work without
getting his toes wet in something medical, but not quite so specialized.
There are lots of medical related fields, including software, accreditation
agencies, publications, etc., to get related experience.

Sorry for all the digressions.
Margaret Cekis
Margaret -at- MediaOcean -dot- com

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